By Tim Leeds
The city of Havre has imposed water restrictions on its residents to make more water available for downstream communities.
Havreites are being asked to restrict their lawn watering to no more than three days a week, and are being asked to use only hand watering.
Havre public works director Dave Peterson said today that Ed Gierke, district representative for the state Disaster and Emergency Services, asked for the restrictions in Havre last week.
A major concern was having water available for emergency use, like fighting fires, in towns downstream, Peterson said.
"It's more just something to help out a little bit," he said.
Peterson said his department doesn't plan to impose fines for violations of the restrictions now, but could start fining violators if the restrictions aren't followed.
The city began cutting back on watering of city parks last week.
Chinook imposed water restrictions on Aug. 23 because of the low level of the Milk River. If the level had dropped further, Chinook water production would have stopped.
Bob Painter, water plant operator in Chinook, said today the river is coming back up.
"Actually, we're doing fairly well. We've got water going over our weir, which is cool," he said. "My main concern is wintertime. We have to save up enough for adequate flow in the winter."
Painter added that the river is still low for this time of year, and the restrictions will probably continue through the summer. He said Ben Hall, acting Chinook mayor, amended the restrictions so half of the town can water in the evenings on even days and the other half on odd days.
Previously no watering of lawn or other large uses of water was allowed.
Jeff Jensen, superintendent of the Havre water plant, said Havre people need to limit their water use to household use Saturday morning for a separate reason.
Jensen said the water plant will be off-line for about six hours Saturday so divers can go inside the water tanks to inspect the linings of the tanks.
This has to be done every four years, he added. He said the tanks have to be completely full for the inspection.