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Watering ban now in effect in Worthington

WORTHINGTON — A total ban on non-essential water usage is now in effect in the city of Worthington.

According to Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain on Friday, the water levels are at a point where the ban went into effect immediately and will remain in place until further notice.

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The water level of Well 26 on Friday morning was 30 feet, 2 inches, which is down 2 inches from last week.

“It wasn’t as severe,” Hain said.

The Water and Light Commission had decided that if the levels were still below the 15-year average on Nov. 1, a ban would be enacted. That ban would continue until the levels meet the 15-year average.

On Friday, that became a reality. The level is 4 feet, 8 inches below the 15-year average; however, it is 4 feet, 4 inches better than it was a year ago — when there was also a ban in place.

According to the public notice, “the use of any water from the public water supply for the purpose of irrigation, the washing of driveways, sidewalks, decks and patios and any other wasteful non-essential use of City of Worthington water is strictly prohibited until further notice.”

The first offense will carry a $90 fine, with the second being $160. Continued violations may result in water service to the property being disconnected, the notice said.

“It will essentially encompass everything it encompassed last go around,” Hain said.

He said the commission realized there isn’t a lot of watering being done at this time of year, but it serves as a good reminder moving into the spring months.

“Imposing this watering ban on the first of November, is it really going to affect water usage over the next three, four or five months? Probably not,” Hain said. “There’s not just what we consider to be a lot of non-essential water use that goes on during these winter months.”

Hain is hoping for snow —and lots of it —this winter.

“Hopefully we get a ton of snow and if we’re standing here in February and we have six feet of snow on the ground, things are going to be looking pretty rosy come spring,” Hain said.

“Hopefully we’ll be in a position to lift the ban.”

If the winter brings a lot of snow, Hain said the ban may not last as long as it did a year ago. The 2012-2013 watering ban was lifted at the end of June.

“What we’re keeping our fingers crossed for is the fact that we can take a drive down to Bella (well field) in January or February and look out at all kinds of snow and say we can start having a conversation that we can let folks know there is a pretty good chance this ban is going to come off,” he said. “We’ll continue to monitor the static levels every Friday. Right now, the water levels are still hanging in the middle range.”

Even if the ban continues into summer like it did this year, Hain said he believes people are more accustomed to some of the water-saving practices they’ve previously adapted. 

“Folks went through this once already,” Hain said. “They will be a little more understanding. A lot of folks adapted to it this year, they bought the rain barrels, they’ve been saving their water. Maybe those who were late to the party this year and saw their neighbors do that, maybe they’re going to jump right on that bandwagon first thing in the spring.”

Hain said that no matter what happens during the next few months, people need to remember the importance of conserving water.

“It’s a precious resource and we’ve gotten a really good wakeup call over the last couple of years,” he said. “So, continue to treat it that way, even if all of the sudden we get a ton of snow this winter and a bunch of rain next spring and we get regular rains through the summer. You still have to remember — things around here can turn around on a dime.”

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.