Decatur's Drastic Drought Defense
The severe drought conditions in the Midwest have led one Illinois town – after receiving half of the average level of rainfall since July 2011 – to implement drastic water restrictions to protect local consumers and industry.
One Illinois town is taking strong measures to make its water supply last through the drought.
Decatur, Ill., announced a number of sweeping new water restrictions August 6 that will close commercial car washes and prohibit watering lawns, landscaping, golf courses and athletic fields in town.
Keith Alexander, director of water management, told the Decatur Herald & Review that the restrictions are the most stringent officials could find in city records.
Since August 9, residents are required to shut off indoor and outdoor water fountains, with the sole exception of drinking fountains. The use of water to maintain lawns, landscaping (including grass, trees and shrubs), golf course and athletic field grass is also prohibited. Water used to maintain vegetation inventories at commercial gardening, landscaping and plant nursery facilities is exempted.
Vegetable gardens are exempted since some citizens depend on those gardens for food. Those gardens may be watered if the water is poured from a bucket that is five gallons or less in volume, and the watering is only allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Decatur residents are also prohibited from washing vehicles, except in cases where public health and safety might be threatened. Commercial car washes, detailing facilities and motor vehicle sales facilities are included in the ban, unlike the first stage of restrictions that began July 25.
''We fully realize that these restrictions will negatively impact many homeowners and businesses. We hope that all of our citizens and water customers realize the seriousness of this drought and that we need to take aggressive steps and sacrifices now, not later,'' Alexander said.
Decatur has been hit hardest by the drought compared to other towns in the area, with 22.75 inches of precipitation since July 1, 2011. That figure is 22.42 inches – about half – below average. Lake Decatur, which supplies both the town and the agricultural and industrial companies nearby that many locals work for, was measured about 3 feet below its normal summer level August 6.
Alexander said the situation is no longer drawing comparisons to the 1988 drought; instead, it is being compared to the crippling dry spells of the 1950s and 1930s. Forecasters predict
A full list of restrictions is available at decaturil.gov.