FARGO — Residents of Fargo may be able to water their lawns more often than they have been under a relaxation of watering restrictions expected next week.
Water Utility Director Troy Hall said he will recommend at the Monday, Sept. 20, Fargo City Commission meeting that the city change its drought status back to the Phase 2 advisory level from its current Phase 3 warning level.
If approved, mandatory odd-even outdoor watering restrictions would come back, replacing the current one-day a week watering limits that have been in place since Aug. 24.
In the weeks since the more restrictive phase began, Hall said there has been a 27% reduction in water use, better than the city’s targeted 25% reduction. Several rounds of “decent” rains have helped, as well, he said.
During Phase 3 watering restrictions, violators could have been cited by the city. Hall said they identified a list of addresses as having possibly violated the restrictions, but did not give out any citations.
West Fargo, which receives its water from Fargo, has sometimes followed suit with its neighbor in adopting watering restrictions.
A city spokesperson said West Fargo is currently in Phase 2 watering restrictions, but had encouraged residents to voluntarily adopt the once-a-week, Phase 3 restrictions.
Moorhead and Dilworth may return to even-odd day watering, according to Travis Schmidt, general manager of Moorhead Public Service.
However, he said they are awaiting clarification from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which imposed the current tougher restrictions based on drought conditions in the state.
John Wheeler, chief meteorologist at WDAY, said relaxation of watering restrictions is appropriate.
Red River volume has increased greatly since a month ago and water needs are far, far less in the fall, he said, so there is no longer a need for deep restrictions.
However, the longer-term drought picture won’t be known until next summer because there isn’t much moisture in a winter snowpack and much of it runs off in the spring.
“A dry summer would put us back into drought as we are presently carrying a moisture deficit,” Wheeler said.
Hall said water utility personnel have been closely monitoring the drought indicators all summer.
While reservoir levels and stream flows in the Red and Sheyenne rivers have improved, the region is still short on precipitation and the Palmer Drought Severity Index score remains the same.