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Worthington water ban lifted

WORTHINGTON — A non-essential watering ban that has been in effect in Worthington for the last several months was lifted Monday afternoon by the Worthington Public Utilities Water and Light Commission. 

The commission opted to cease the ban until Sept. 2, at which time a decision will be made on putting it back in place. The city’s odd/even street address rule will remain in effect, and no lawn irrigation will be allowed between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

While the watering ban is lifted, the commission still stresses the importance of conserving water.

“While the well level is above average, it’s not very far above average, so we still encourage folks to keep up with their conservation practices,” Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain said. “I think what we’ve all learned over the past several months is that water is a scarce resource and we have to respect that.”

Different scenarios were discussed during the meeting as to how and when the commission was planning to lift the ban.

Ron Wood, who represents the Worthington City Council on the commission, began the conversation of lifting the ban entirely by stating, “We’re in the green, and we said that when we were in the green we would lift.”

Added Wood: “We’ve been in the green for three weeks, and I know it’s only above average by eight inches, but if we go back to when we lifted the ban last year, we went right back into the yellow and we didn’t put the ban back on until November. To me, we kind of set a standard.”

Other commissioners were in favor of a partial release of the watering ban.

“I’m leaning toward the partial release so people can power wash their houses or decks to get ready for house projects, but the sprinklers, people leave them on for hours,” Commissioner Jim Elsing said.

There was some debate on whether the commission could re-issue the watering ban if well levels were to drop shortly after it was lifted.

According to Hain, the commission does not have to wait until the well levels “hit the red” or until Nov. 1 to put a ban back on or to ban certain practices — it can issue a ban whenever it deems necessary.

Newly appointed commissioner Aaron Hagen echoed Wood’s thoughts on taking the watering ban off all together.

“I like the idea that since you banned it completely, to just do the same thing in reverse,” Hagen said. “If we get to that point to where the ban needs to be put back on, then maybe you think about doing it in steps so that people get used to it.”

Ultimately, the commission came to a compromise and completely lifted the watering ban, with restrictions of the odd/even street address rule remaining in effect along with no lawn irrigation from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The commission will review whether or not a ban needs to be reactivated in the city during its Sept. 2 meeting.

In addition to approving the lifting of the watering ban, the commission also approved a bid for a concrete restoration project in the amount of $264,758 to McCuen Construction, which came in under budget. The project will affect parts of Second Avenue, 15th Street, Dover Street, 11th Street and Ninth Avenue.

The commission also rejected two bids for a major water reconstruction project on Oxford Street due to the estimated costs being 50 percent over budget.

“At the time of the approved plans and specs and we were authorized to go out for bids, the total project estimate had climbed up to around $513,000 and the 2014 budget only included $405,820 for the project,” Hain explained.

Based on the bids the commission received, the low bid was around $613,000 for the project. Re-bidding will take place in January or February.

In other business, Hagen was recognized at what was his first meeting as a commissioner.

“When the vacancy occurred, the mayor contacted me and asked if I had any ideas of people in mind, and Aaron popped into my head after covering meetings for so long,” Hain said. “We all look forward to working with you.”

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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