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Helena implements watering restrictions as consumption remains high

Posted at 7:01 PM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 21:01:35-04

HELENA — The city of Helena is implementing immediate water restrictions, after leaders say they’ve continued to see concerning levels of water consumption.

“While we do have storage, we do not have sufficient amounts to continue at this rate of consumption, so we have to move to the next level,” said city manager Rachel Harlow-Schalk.

Under the Stage III restrictions, homes and businesses that use city water are required to water lawns only on alternate days – odd days of the month for street addresses that end in odd numbers and even days of the month for those ending in even numbers.
They also call for watering between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., and only once a day.

City leaders say they saw record water use on multiple days in June. The Ten Mile and Missouri River water plants are treating about 16 million gallons a day – 6 million than usual for this time of year.

Harlow-Schalk says, since runoff remains low, it’s simply more demand than the system can handle.

While there won’t be any fines, for now, Harlow-Schalk said they will look at introducing penalties for violations as soon as next week, if water consumption still doesn’t go down. She said they’re asking people to take these steps so that they don’t need to move on to Stage IV restrictions, which would prohibit all outdoor water use.

“We are in serious danger of a fire this weekend,” she said. “I don’t want to shut off water because I do want people to be watering, but please do it at night so that we’re maintaining not just the volume of water, but maintaining the moisture in our community that would be necessary to help fight some of these fires.”

Harlow-Schalk says the city is also cutting water use at its parks and other facilities, including the Bill Roberts Golf Course.

The city has released several other recommendations for limiting water use, including mowing in the late evening or early morning and letting your grass grow slightly longer. You can find more information about the restrictions and recommendations at the city website.