Wichita Leaders Approve New Drought Plan

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Wichita City Council unanimously approved the city's new drought plan this morning.

The plan includes four drought stages and each would be automatically triggered, based on a 12-month, average of water level at Cheney Reservoir. The City Manager would be authorized to implement the approved actions.

The first stage, Voluntary Conservation, would take effect when the Reservoir moved below 90%. There would be no penalties or mandatory restrictions. However, the City would begin offering a rebate program to encourage conservation.

The second stage, Mandatory Restrictions, would take effect when the Reservoir moved lower than 70%. Customers could then use water outdoors only one day a week, and hours would be restricted to the coolest part of the day (8pm-10am). Violators would receive a warning, followed by penalties of $50 for the first offense, and $100 for the offenses thereafter. Food producing gardens utilizing drip irrigation or hand watering and businesses that generate economic activity directly from outdoor watering (golf courses, car washes, etc.) would be exempt. Most of the discretionary internal conservation measures would be enacted, though fountain schedules would remain unchanged.

The third stage, Irrigation Bans, would take effect when the Reservoir moved below 50%. All outdoor water usage would be prohibited except for food producing gardens utilizing drip irrigation or hand watering and watering by the businesses exempted during Stage #2. Their exemption would still apply during Stage #3. Violators would receive a warning after their first infraction, and penalties ranging from $250-$500 thereafter. The City would expedite repairs to all water main breaks and irrigation leaks and would reduce the operating hours at its public fountains.

The fourth stage, Water Emergency, would take effect when the Reservoir moved below 35%. No outdoor watering would be allowed, even from businesses that were formerly exempt from the drought
bans. In addition, all customers would be required to decrease their indoor usage (base demand) by 15%. Major hospitals would be exempt from this base demand reduction, due to the critical
life-saving operations they offer. Penalties would range from a warning to a $500 penalty, while a flow restriction device would be installed on water meters of customers who violate the policy three
times. All of the City-owned fountains would be shut off.

There is no current cost to adopting this plan.

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