Voluntary Water Conservation Measures Enacted in Storm Lake

Recent increases in water usage have prompted the City of Storm Lake to enact its Water Conservation Plan.

“Over the past few weeks, the water treatment plant has been operating at near maximum capacity, which means that we need to request the cooperation of residents to voluntarily conserve water whenever possible,” City Manager Keri Navratil said.

The demand has peaked for several days recently at slightly above 5 million gallons per day. The plant’s production capacity is 5.3 million gallons per day. It is important to control spiking demand to ensure that there is a stable supply of water for everyone at all times, plus an adequate reserve in the towers in the event of a major fire department response.

The fluctuating demand is seen mostly in residential usage, reflecting the city’s population and housing growth over the past several years. To increase capacity, the city has installed a new well with another planned for the next year. Construction is beginning for a new water tower that should come online in 2025, and planning is beginning toward a larger treatment plant facility for the future.

In the meantime, water that can be conserved by residential, business, industry and institutional users will help to ensure that stringent mandatory measures may be avoided.

Here are some practical ideas to help conserve water at your home (and save some money on your water bill in the process):

  • Lawn watering – 20-50% of water used in lawn and garden watering is wasted due to evaporation and runoff. Water only when necessary, and if you must water, do it in the cooler early morning or later evening hours to help ensure that water will not evaporate before getting to the roots. Slightly longer grass will hold water more efficiently, set mower height accordingly. Using mulch can help conserve water in gardens, planting beds and around young trees. Businesses can use timers on sprinkler systems and shut watering down during periods with more precipitation.
  • Backyard pools – Avoid overfilling which can cause water to be splashed out. Cover pools when not in use to avoid evaporation and keep water cleaner (requiring fewer refillings). If you have to refill, pool water can be reused for watering plants and lawns.
  • Washing vehicles – Keep to a minimum. When washing at home, use a hose with an automatic shut-off. Wash vehicles in a grassy area to avoid water wasted in runoff on driveways and sidewalks.
  • Faucets, pipes and toilets – Fix leaks. Even a mildly dripping faucet can waste gallons of water each day. Don’t let the faucet run when not in use – turning off water while brushing your teeth alone could save up to four gallons per minute. Little things add up – you can collect water from washing fruits and vegetables to water your houseplants. Check toilets for leaks – place a little food coloring in the tank, and if it seeps into the bowl, your toilet is wasting water and needs repair.
  • Power washing – Residential pressure washers use up to 2.5 gallons per minute, and commercial washers up to 10 gallons or more per minute. Keep washing of buildings, sidewalks and driveways to a minimum. Use a broom to clean concrete.
  • Appliances – Use washing machines and dishwashers only when you have a full load.
  • Showers – Reduce time spent in the shower, and you will also benefit on your water bill. Shortening a shower by just one to two minutes may save 150 gallons every month. Many showerheads run at a rate of a gallon in less than 20 seconds, so you may want to consider a limited-flow showerhead. Turn off the water when washing your hair and save up to 150 gallons per month.