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Nov. 1 watering ban likely

(Submitted Graphic)

WORTHINGTON — The date on which a watering ban would go back in effect has been set by the Worthington Public Utilities Water and Light Commission.

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After looking at a chart detailing the actual average in well levels and figures denoting 70 percent of the 15-year average, the commission decided Monday that when the water level was between those two numbers, the ban would begin Nov. 1.

The commission also said it could take action sooner than that if water issues become more severe, though a Nov. 1 non-essential watering ban is most likely.

"Last week, we had an eight-inch drop in Well 26, which is the biggest drop we've seen since we dropped the ban (June 28)," Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain said.

Hain showed the group multiple charts with different averages for the respective years. The chart the group liked the best had the 70-percent and actual average of the 15-year average -- which was fittingly colored to green, yellow and red. Currently, the levels are in the yellow "caution" area and not yet to the red "stop" level.

"We're operating still below average, but more than halfway between the average and that 70-percent level," Hain said.

Hain said he liked the way it worked a year ago with the ban, which was enacted in late October.

"We didn't like where things were going," he said. "We imposed that ban and going into the spring, we just had to remind people."

It's the same concept this year. Unless something drastically changes, the ban will be in back in effect.

"Is there a point in the fall where it wouldn't matter if the ban was on or not?" commission member Kevin Donovan said. "If there was that magical date late in the fall, would it make sense to just say we're going to impose the watering ban on this date unless something happens before that? We prepare people before the winter so they know the watering ban is back on so they don't do all the spring watering until we lift it."

"Nov. 1 is when it should be," member Ron Wood said. "Then we should be out of the watering. We could even have significant freezing before then.

"It won't be lifted until we reach certain criteria."

Member Randy Thompson said he didn't support a ban every year.

"Let's say any year we're in the yellow, it's a cautious year," Wood said. "If we haven't been able to move ourselves out of that yellow by the first of November, we will put a ban on until we see the recharge.

"There have been falls where we've had so much rain we haven't had to worry about it," he continued. "If we move up to the green, we say we don't need to put a ban on -- we've already started our recharge for next year."

The motion to automatically impose the ban if operating in the below-average zone on Nov. 1 passed unanimously.

"I personally don't have any problems staying in a ban until we're back up into the green," Hain said, referring to the 15-year average.

The commission stated it could impose a ban sooner if needed. If the water level is above average, no ban would be put into place.

In other news, Hain reported the second connection with Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water was completed. At its peak, the city could begin to get as much as a million gallons of water per day.

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