ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - St. Paul Regional Water Services, which services St. Paul and several suburbs, is imposing watering restrictions amid ongoing drought conditions, including watering schedules and restrictions on when residents can water.
"Today our request to customers becomes a requirement," St. Paul Regional Water Services Assistant General Manager Racquel Vaske told FOX 9. "We need to up our efforts in order to conserve water a little bit better and get our numbers of usage down."
Effective Tuesday, all SPRWS water customers are restricted to the following water schedules:
- Customers with odd-numbered addresses can water on odd-numbered days of the month.
- Customers with even-numbered addresses can water on even-numbered days of the month.
Watering Time Restrictions
- Outdoor watering can only take place before noon or after 6 p.m. any day.
- Commercial uses of outdoor water, including nurseries or community gardens
- New sod or seed can be watered if daily watering is required. It is recommended that any planting of new sod or seeds be delayed until the fall or until drought conditions subside.
- Trees may be watered with a dripping hose, bucket or tree watering bag as needed.
The restrictions apply to all SPRWS customers in Saint Paul, Arden Hills, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Lilydale, Little Canada, Maplewood, Mendota, Mendota Heights, Roseville and West Saint Paul.
Enforcement of the restrictions will begin on Friday. That is when residents will face fines or risk having their water shut off if they violate the restrictions. The penalties for non-compliance are as follows:
- First violation – Educational notice
- Second violation – Written warning
- Third violation – $50
- Fourth violation – $100
- Fifth and all additional violations - $150 plus water shut off to the property. (There is a $50 turn off fee once the water is shut off.)
"Our customer service line will accept calls if there are people calling in to report violations, and we’ll go out," Vaske said
The city says awareness about the situation is already spreading and water use is down significantly. But to be better stewards for neighbors further down the river, the restrictions are meant to cut water use down by another 10 million gallons per day.
"I think at this point we’re intending for [restrictions] to last well into the fall," Vaske said.
Minnesota enters next phase of statewide drought plan
The restrictions are part of the next phase of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Statewide Drought Plan. As of Tuesday, Minnesota is now in the "restrictive phase" of the drought plan, which was triggered by Mississippi River flows in the Twin Cities dropping below 1,500 cubic feet per second for five consecutive days.
"We’re really watching that Mississippi River and the flow rate. Right now today, are about 1100 cubic feet per second," Vaske explained. "The height of the water at the Mississippi River where our intake is is well above where our intake pipes are at this point, there’s not a concern of getting the water, [but] we’re trying to be responsible stewards of this resource."
As of August 10, 78% of Minnesota is now experiencing severe drought, 42% is experiencing extreme drought and 7% is experiencing exceptional drought. Under current conditions, the area needs at least 5-8 inches of rain over a month to significantly alleviate the drought.
Lawn and garden water conservation tips
SPRWS offers the following tips for conserving water during the drought.
- Water your lawn early and less often: The earlier your water, the more water is absorbed into your lawn. Turn on sprinklers early or set your automatic sprinklers to turn on in the very early morning. Only water your lawn once a week or eliminate irrigation use.
- Don’t overwater: Roughly 1 inch of water per week is enough to keep your lawn healthy. Water when your lawn needs, not out of habit. Try to water slowly – the faster you water, the more water runs off – not benefitting your lawn.
- Adjust your sprinklers: Make sure sprinklers are aimed at lawn and garden areas, and not watering pavement, patios, or buildings.
- Mulch your trees and plants: Mulch helps prevent water evaporation and prevents some weed growth.
- Leave grass clippings in place: Grass clippings provide shade for the soil.
- Check for leaks: Leaks in hoses, pipes, couplings, or sprinklers wastes water.