By Tim Leeds
With testing complete on the new section of the Havre water treatment plant, the city is lifting its watering restrictions, effective Sunday.
"We have the new plant on line and it's producing water," Dave Peterson, director of public works, said today.
Havre implemented restrictions on outdoor water use in the spring. Until Sunday, people can water only on alternating days from 8 p.m. until 10 a.m.
A combination of conditions contributed to the decision to lift the restrictions: the working plant; cleaner water flowing into Fresno Reservoir, which requires less treatment; rain over the summer; and recent cooler weather.
Other restrictions in the area have been lifted or may be lifted soon.
Chinook removed its water restrictions in July.
Kim Bunton, manager of the Hill County Water District, said the district's restrictions limiting outdoor watering to 8 p.m. until 10 a.m. are still in place. The district's board might consider lifting the restriction at its September meeting, he said. The district serves most of the county west of Havre.
Havre will take advantage of the larger water supply to check and flush its water systems in September, Peterson said. City workers will be testing fire hydrants and flushing the mains.
"Before the cold weather sets in we'd like to go out and flush the systems," Peterson said.
Work on upgrading the old section of the treatment plant has begun. That work had to wait until the city was sure the new section could provide drinkable water, plant superintendent Jeff Jensen said.
The work on the treatment plant, a $6.7 million upgrade to increase production by about 50 percent and automate the treatment, is being done by Williams Bros. Construction, and the work is behind schedule. Havre Mayor Bob Rice said today negotiations are still under way to determine if Williams Bros. can complete the project by the Oct. 31 deadline.
The original deadline for the project was Oct. 31, 2001. The contract was amended Nov. 17, extending the deadline to July 31 for the main part of the project and Oct. 31 for final completion.
Restrictions were put in place last year because of a shortage of water. The level of Fresno Reservoir, the main source of irrigation and drinking water from Hill County to Malta, bottomed out at 13 percent of average in June 2001.
The restrictions this year were also implemented because of the low water supply. After above-average rains started in June, the level of the reservoir and Milk River jumped. But the water was so dirty restrictions were kept in place as water plants and districts tried to prepare enough for their users.
Peterson said the city's water restrictions were followed pretty well. He said he hopes people saw that watering on alternating days and in the evening and early mornings can still grow a good lawn, and will continue with conservation techniques.
There were some violations and confusion about how the program worked, he said. If the city implements restrictions again, it may have to consider other schedules, he said.
"Every time it's a learning process, so we learned from this one," he said.