Water conservation

City Utilities showcases emergency water features as Ozarks face extreme drought

Late last month, the southwest corner of Missouri lit up bright red on the US Drought Watch. That means our drought is extreme — and water watches and emergency conservation plans could be coming soon from Springfield City Utilities.

Steve Stodden is CU’s director of natural gas and water operations. Last week, he updated the utility board on how CU is planning for drought-related emergencies.

“There are basically five different phases in our water conservation plan: there’s water monitoring, water warning, and then three conservation stages,” Stodden said.

Depending on water storage issues, the utility president may call a water watch. In this case, CU is asking Springfield area residents to reduce their water usage where they can. For example, residents are asked to water their lawns on different days of the week depending on whether their home address is an odd or even number.

CU can call a water warning, designed to re-emphasize the seriousness of the situation, if lake-level water storage drops below 65 percent. Warning has the same requirements and demands as water monitoring.

If water storage levels continue to drop, CU can call a water shortage, emergency or water crisis. Each alert level has stronger water restrictions designed to reduce water demand to safe levels.

“Each one has more impact on our community. You know, we’re doing everything we can to not get into those and to try to get the message out,” Stodden said.

Water shortage

  • First of three steps in UC’s water conservation measures
  • Adopted when water storage levels are below 60% capacity
  • The goal is to reduce water demand by 15%
  • No washing of driveways, parking lots, etc.
  • Restricted hours for filling residential pools
  • Restricted hours for washing non-commercial vehicles
  • No water for dust control
  • Lawn irrigation restricted to one day per week
  • Water served to restaurants only on request

Water emergency

  • Adopted when water storage levels are below 55%
  • The goal is to reduce water demand by 20%
  • Eliminate lawn irrigation
  • Eliminates the filling of residential pools
  • Eliminates the use of water for recreational purposes – no slides, for example
  • Eliminates non-commercial vehicle washing – car washes remain open, but residents cannot wash cars at home

water crisis

  • Adopted when water storage is less than 50%
  • The goal is to reduce water demand by 25%
  • All vehicle washing prohibited — car washes closed
  • Prohibit any watering of landscaping and lawns
  • Prohibits the filling of all swimming pools
  • Prohibits any new or extended water service connection
  • Customers who consume more than their average winter water usage are subject to a surcharge, the “Emergency Saving Water Service Rate”
  • Use of water from fire hydrants limited to use for human consumption, necessary watering of animals or for fire safety purposes.

“At this point, we consider it critical,” Stodden told the utility board. But Stodden said Springfield’s current water storage level was about 88% at the end of July. Stodden said the last time Springfield faced water scrutiny was in 2012, and the community responded very well.