Watering one’s lawn may not be much of an issue this time of year. But if you’re someone big on irrigation, you better take note of an ordinance recently passed by Columbus Council.
The ordinance, adopted Tuesday, sets restrictions and enforcement for four levels of outdoor water use during non-drought and drought conditions.
Vic Burchfield, vice president of the Columbus Water Works, said the restrictions stem from a 2010 Water Stewardship Act passed by the state. That act restricted outdoor watering “for the purposes of planting, growing, managing, or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs, or other plants” to between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. during non-drought conditions.
In 2015, the Department of Natural Resources amended the act to include three additional levels — drought levels 1, 2 and 3.
“What that gives the state the ability to do is to standardize these water restrictions throughout the whole state so that all utilities in the state are under the same drought response levels and know what to do whenever the state declares any particular level,” he said. “Under non-drought conditions its a voluntary compliance.”
Burchfield said the state is currently under Drought Level 1 because of the drought that started last year. He said the drought level went into effect Nov. 17. He said the state sets the levels based on soil moisture, groundwater tables, weather patterns, rainfall and other factors.
“The difference between Drought Level 1 and the non-drought conditions is a public education requirement,” he said. “So the watering is still allowed from 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. every day, but addition to that the local water utility must provide the public with the information about the drought level and that those water restrictions are in place.”
For Drought Response Levels 2 and 3, outdoor irrigation for purposes of planting, growing, managing, or maintaining ground cover, trees, shrubs, or other plants, will be limited to two days a week on an odd-even schedule, according to the ordinance. Even numbered addresses may irrigate on Wednesday and Saturday between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Odd numbered addresses may irrigate on Thursday and Sunday between 4 p.m. and 10 a.m.
The ordinance will allow the Board of Water Commissioners “to delay or avoid implementing measures such as water rationing or more restrictive water use regulations pursuant to a declared water shortage emergency,” the ordinance says.
These non-drought restrictions are waived for certain purposes such as the commercial agriculture operations, irrigation of personal gardens, the irrigation of new and replanted plant, seed, or turf in landscapes, golf courses, or sports turf fields during installation and for a period of 30 days immediately following the date of installation.
They also don’t apply to:
- Drip irrigation or irrigation using soaker hoses
- Hand-watering with a hose with automatic cutoff or hand-held container;
- Use of water withdrawn from private water wells or surface water by an owner or operator of property if such well or surface water is on said property;
- Irrigation of horticultural crops held for sale, resale, or installation;
- Irrigation of athletic fields, golf courses, or public turf grass recreational areas;
- Installation, maintenance, or calibration of irrigation systems
Burchfield said the state will keep an eye on the situation, and he hopes the drought level will be reduced in the near future. In the meantime, he thanks Columbus residents for their patience.
“Our customers have been very responsive to water restrictions that have been put out in the past,” he said. “And they’ve always been cooperative.”