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Temporary water restrictions in place after weekend ban

Press Photo by Nadya Faulx City Administrator Shawn Kessel speaks at a Dickinson City Commission Meeting Monday. He outlined temporary water-use restrictions that will be in place following a weekend ban on outdoor water use.

Dickinson’s emergency outdoor water ban is over, but temporary restrictions will remain in place indefinitely to conserve the city’s vulnerable water supply.

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Many residents were surprised — and some angered — after city officials announced Friday a full ban on outdoor water use, but as City Administrator Shawn Kessel explained at Monday’s City Commission meeting that the move was necessary after Dickinson’s primary 1 million-gallon water storage tank emptied three times in a 36-hour period last week.

The weekend ban helped “allow recovery,” he said.

The water shortage hindered the city’s ability to provide fire protection to the area north of the interstate and west of State Avenue, known as Zone 2, and “if pressures get too low, it could jeopardize existing infrastructure,” he said.

Only users of municipal water sources were subject to the ban. Kessel said that overall, most residents complied with the ban.

“It did help,” he said, noting that the city dropped from 5.6 million to 3.6 million gallons of use.

Though water levels are back up, the City Commission passed continuing temporary restrictions on water use, including lawn watering, and hydrant testing and flushing. The restrictions will apply to all residential, public, commercial and industrial properties on the municipal water system. Other water sources are not under the restriction.

Odd-numbered addresses will be asked to water their lawns only on odd-numbered calendar dates, and even-numbered addresses on even calendar dates. Residents will be allowed to water their lawns only between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

A second phase to the restriction, which Kessel said the city is not recommending at this time, would also ban coin-operated and bulk water holders, car washes, dust control, personal vehicle washing, water for gardens and water for pools; any city infrastructure projects would have to turn to raw water sources rather than use potable water.

No citations — which could come with a $1,000 fine — were given out for violations over the weekend, and Kessel said he and commission members “certainly hope it doesn’t get to that.”

City Attorney Matt Kolling said he anticipates that “people will be reasonable” about the restrictions.

The weekend ban may have been unexpected for some, but Commissioner Gene Jackson stressed that the possibility of water-use restrictions was discussed two years ago when the commission was developing the city’s comprehensive plan.

“This was not unanticipated,” he said. “We also knew that we would be able to take care of it.”

The city is working on about $30 million of water distribution projects, including the installation of two main lines and a new 1 million-gallon water tower.