Friday morning, the utility held a news conference to announce it is issuing its first-ever "Water Watch," which means the city's water reservoirs are in danger of declining, perhaps rapidly.
City Utilities General Manager Scott
Miller stood on a bluff overlooking
"We ask everyone to help us conserve water so that we can postpone what we call getting into emergency levels."
Water levels in Fellows, McDaniel
The docks normally submerged at
Miller says CU customers are already conserving about 10 million gallons a day.
The utility's emergency conservation plan is not due to kick in until levels reach 60-percent.
"Resemble the droughts we suffered in 1988 as well as 1956," says Steve Runnels with the National Weather Service.
At that point, restrictions will be mandatory. The drought has already had implications far and wide impacting businesses and residents.
"Get dozens of calls every day wanting to know how to water their trees, flowers, garden or lawn," says Don McElhany with Wickman's Gardens in Springfield. He's worked there for 12 years.
Wickman's Gardens relies on hundreds of gallons of water. It's using drip hoses to conserve water.
"Twelve acres," adds McElhany. "Just covered with shrubs and flowers."
Like many, McElhany is also being hit at home.
"I am worried about my pastures and wells at home, coming to work 40 hours a week worried about water for plants. Do the best I can I guess. If we have to cut down, we'll have to cut down."
If we reach an emergency status and restrictions become mandatory, businesses and homes that exceed water usage will pay a fee.
"We will be right there with them," says McElhany.
CU is already urging homeowners to use the voluntary even/odd water irrigation plan where outdoor watering is done only every other day (see attachment below).Miller says other voluntary conservation measures include:
* Check for and repair water leaks
* Be more vigilant about turning off the water when shaving or brushing your teeth
* Take shorter showers
* Run your dishwashers and washing machines only when full
* Eliminate nonessential uses such as rinsing driveways and sidewalks
The City of
* Springfield Branson National Airport has cut back on turf irrigation and is only watering small grass areas immediately next to the terminal and spot watering on new trees to keep them alive.
* The great majority of our general park areas do not receive any type of irrigation. For those few areas that do receive irrigation (Jordan Valley Park, Cooper Tennis Complex, and Chesterfield Family Center), steps have been taken to cut back and appropriately stagger irrigation schedules in keeping with CU's recommended guidelines for commercial and residential areas.
* Public areas maintained by Public
Works and Parks golf courses and ball fields continue to be irrigated as
minimally as possible. The fountain at
* Park Board swimming pools will continue in their operation as they provide much-needed relief to park patrons working to beat the excessive heat we are currently experiencing in the area.
* Springfield Fire Department is carefully evaluating the use of water for training purposes at this time. The department does not feel there is any threat to fire protection during this Water Watch period.