U.S. Water News Online
KEARNEY, Neb. -- City officials plan to teach residents how
to conserve water before the warm weather demands of lawn watering
and car washing kick in this year.
Kirk Stocker, Kearney's director of utilities, said the city is
promoting conservation because it beats voluntary or forced rationing
in case water supplies don't match demand.
That was the case in many Nebraska communities and natural
resource districts last summer, when drought saw some wells and
tributaries run dry. A peak of 59 communities had imposed water
rationing and lawn-watering restrictions by mid-August.
Kearney managed to avoid restrictions, even as last summer went
down as one of its driest on record. But Stocker warned that a lack
of snowfall this winter could lead to rationing in 2003.
In an attempt to prompt more Kearney residents to conserve water,
the city's Web site is posting tips, and local utility bills will
carry brochures to teach and promote conservation. Books on
landscaping to save water are available at the Kearney Public Library
and Information Center.
Winter is a good time to begin conservation practices, Stocker
said, because without lawn watering, it's possible to get a better
idea how much water a household is consuming -- or wasting.
``Winter is a good time to observe for leaks, like running
toilets,'' he said.
After getting a handle on household consumption, residents then
are ready for summer, when they can learn to avoid wasting water as
they maintain their lawns, he said.
``The average bluegrass lawn requires about 1 to 11/2 inches of
water per week. You can measure how much you're putting on with a
little tuna can,'' Stocker said. ``If you water three times a week
and fill the can about one-third full each time, then you've put on
about 1 inch of water.''
Stocker said even though the Platte River ran dry 20 days in 2002,
the city's water pumping was not compromised. Kearney's 15 wells can
produce 25 million gallons per day when the aquifer is full.
Because Kearney's Platte River wellfields depend on normal amounts
of snowfall upstream, city officials plan to develop an alternate
wellfield esti mated at $13 million in the Ogallala Aquifer northwest
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