By Tim Leeds
The Havre Department of Public Works is imposing water restrictions in the city to conserve water because of the drought.
Outside the city, the Hill County Water District is still urging voluntary conservation but has adopted higher fines that will apply if it also adopts restrictions.
Havre public works director Dave Peterson said today that people should restrict their lawn watering to nights and evenings on alternate days, beginning Wednesday.
"We just don't want massive watering done," he said.
Havre residents will be allowed to water their lawns on a rotating basis between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Houses with even-numbered street addresses can water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and odd-numbered houses can water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. No watering will be allowed on Mondays.
People have been calling the Public Works Department to ask if they can water by hand, Peterson said. A small amount, like watering a flower pot, will be allowed.
People also should avoid watering during hot or windy days, and should use techniques that make the best use of the water, Peterson said.
"We'd like people to get into the habit of conserving water," he said.
People with questions about how to most effectively water or care for their lawns can call the Public Works or Parks and Recreation departments. Local landscaping companies have excellent tips about how to water and care for lawns, too, Peterson said.
Water plant superintendent Jeff Jensen asked people to restrict their water use earlier this month to conserve water for communities downstream from Havre on the Milk River.
The Hill County Water District at a recent meeting stopped short of imposing restrictions but urged residents to voluntarily restrict their water use.
The district will closely monitor the level of Fresno Reservoir, the source of water for the Hill County District, and issue restrictions if needed. The district includes most of western Hill County.
The district board also increased penalities for violations in the event it does impose restrictions. The first violation of water restrictions will result in a $100 fine. The second violation will have a $200 fine and a third will result in the water service being turned off. The district formerly imposed a $100 fine for each violation.
A reconnection fee of $325 will be required for resumption of service. The new rule allows the district staff to inspect the connection and meter of the user and to inspect disconnected services.
The headwaters of the Milk River are in better shape this year than last, but Peterson said the alternating watering days will likely be in effect for the rest of the summer in Havre.
Fresno Reservoir, which releases the water Havre uses for its municipal water supply, is slowly filling with water released upstream, but Jensen has said the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Fresno, will need to fill the reservoir before releasing a larger amount of water for downstream users. Fresno is part of the bureau's irrigation projects for the Milk River Basin.
The bureau's Web site shows that the level of Fresno has risen, from about 7 percent of average on the first of the month to about 25 percent of average Monday.