The City of Rawlins is under water restrictions for the watering season beginning today. As with most of Wyoming, we are in a drought which is worsened by our infrastructure issues. Without pulling together to conserve water, our community will likely drain our tanks, experience boil-water advisories, and potentially lose fire protection.
We currently receive around 1.5 million gallons of water a day into the treatment plant and consistently use 1 million gallons per day for household use. Our flows are half of what they were last year at this time. In the summer, water use increases to 3 to 6 million gallons of water per day because of outdoor watering. This obvious shortfall in water supply needs to be taken seriously to have water available for our community. If our community waters the same amount as last year during restrictions, we estimate that our water tanks would be completely empty by mid-to-late June.
We have reached “Level D” as defined in Rawlins Municipal Code 13.10. Although the code does allow for more substantial restrictions to be placed, for now, the restrictions are set as:
- Residences/businesses may only water one day per week before 10 am or after 6 pm. Even-numbered residences/businesses may water on Thursdays and odd-numbered residences/businesses may water on Monday. We recommend a maximum of up to sixty minutes of watering for each zone/area of turf on the designated day. We will monitor for excessive water use due to the severity of our situation.
- Trees, bushes, gardens, etc., may be watered as needed using a manually operated hose with an automatic shut-off valve before 10 am or after 6 pm.
- Do not allow water to run onto or pool in gutters, streets, and sidewalks.
- Vehicles may be washed only using a manually operated hose with an automatic shut-off valve. Please only wash when you feel it is absolutely necessary and use the minimum amount of water possible.
- Washing parking lots, sidewalks, or driveways with water is prohibited except for construction, safety, and health reasons.
- Any water that can be conserved will make difference. Even the simple things, such as turning off the water while brushing teeth and fixing dripping faucets, will make a difference when done by our whole community.
- The University of Wyoming Extension Office has many resources to offer scientific advice on water prioritization, vegetation water needs, and the design of lower-water use landscapes. These will be posted at rawlinswy.org/water. The Extension Office also offers one-on-one consulting. Please call 307-328-2642.
Our ordinance allows for fines from $250-$750 for breaking the water restrictions. At least one warning will be given per residence to ensure everyone is aware before receiving a fine. Water use will be monitored by city staff throughout the town and through our meter reading software.
Typically, our Parks Division begins irrigation in late April. However, public safety is our City’s first priority. Parks Superintendent Tyrell Perry said, “We recognize the importance of water for public safety and that will be the main consideration this summer.” The Parks Division is postponing all irrigation of turf at this time; and will be meeting with the Water Division on a regular basis to see what watering can occur through the summer. Our parks, green spaces, and sports field will likely be brown and dry this year. We understand that the restricted watering will likely be seriously detrimental to the long-term health of our parks.
The City of Rawlins and the Carbon County Extension Office will be hosting a Town Hall regarding our water infrastructure, need for water restrictions, and watering prioritization on May 19th at 6 pm at the Jeffrey Center. We encourage the public to attend and ask questions as we discuss wise water use, the current state of infrastructure, and the water restrictions. This will also be broadcast live online.
Council is currently working to amend Rawlins Municipal Code 13.10: Water Use Management, and public feedback is welcome. It is scheduled for discussion and review at the City Council meetings on May 3 and 17th. These meetings are held at City Hall, 521 W. Cedar, at 7:30 pm.
The City of Rawlins has been working diligently this winter on our water infrastructure, including allocating over $2 million in repairs to our water infrastructure this year alone, and applied for over $11 million in grants. We are also actively pursuing grants and loans for our major water infrastructure improvements which will exceed $15 million. Currently, 10,000 feet of woodstave pipeline is being replaced in the Sage Creek Basin, the source of our spring water. We are also working to bring the pre-treatment plant back online to help clean river water. However, until these projects are complete, we cannot estimate what impact this will have on our water supply.
For a copy of our report on water infrastructure and the critical water event this March, visit rawlinswy.org/water or call 307-328-4500 to have a copy mailed to you. It was also included in the City View. For a City of Rawlins Water Treatment Plant tour, please call 307-328-4564. For more information, please contact Mira Miller, City of Rawlins Community Relations Coordinator, at 307-328-4500 ext. 1022.