By Tim Leeds
Compliance with the city of Havre's watering restrictions hasn't been universal, but city officials say the violations seem to be unintentional.
"I think, for the most part, people are watching the conservation measures," Havre public works director Dave Peterson said.
Sprinklers were running outside a number of Havre homes and businesses Tuesday morning, when no watering is allowed under the restrictions. Sprinklers were also watering the lawn at Havre City Hall.
Havre implemented the restrictions on April 24. Houses are allowed to water only on alternating days, from 8 p.m. until 10 a.m. the following morning. No watering is allowed from 10 a.m. Monday through 8 p.m Tuesday, when houses with even-numbered addresses can begin watering.
Hand watering also is limited, but the city will make exceptions on a case by case basis, Peterson said. For example, he's allowed some downtown business owners to hand water during the day if they can't do it during normal watering hours.
Steve Chvilicek, owner of Frontier Landscaping, said the restrictions have kept his workers busy resetting automatic sprinkler systems and installing new ones for customers.
"We've been on the move," he said. "A lot of our customers, we're just adjusting them to the correct day to satisfy the situation.
"It's been a challenge," he added.
Dead batteries and power surges can make automatic systems reset to default mode, requiring the system to be reprogrammed, he said.
Some watering outside of the restrictions is legal. Havre High School has its own well, and is not required to follow the restrictions. The districts plans to drill a well for the middle school as well.
Havre police Lt. George Tate said officers have been issuing warnings to people watering when they're not supposed to. Most violators have automatic systems that need to be set, he said.
Most warnings are the result of a complaint filed with the police, he added.
The city ordinance doesn't allow citations for violating the restrictions, Tate said, but the city does have the option of shutting the subscriber's water off.
Havre's goal is to promote conservation, not shut people's water off, Peterson said.
"We're on conservation now. We don't want to scare people," he said. "It's just to notify and let them know. Most poeple have been following the restrictions pretty well."
The city's water use is well below average for this time of year, Peterson said. That's good because the muddiness of the Milk River and the upgrade at the city water treatment plant have reduced how much water can be produced, he said.
Restrictions might be eased next year, Peterson said, but there will probably still be limitations like restricting watering to evenings and mornings.
"(The city) is in the business to sell some water, but we're also here to conserve water. Just because we have an abundance of something, you don't want to waste it," he said.
Mayor Bob Rice said he knew nothing about the sprinklers at city hall running Tuesday morning and would make sure the automatic system is properly set.