LE MARS, Iowa | Because of unrelenting heat and dry conditions, some cities in Siouxland are asking residents to conserve water, especially for lawns.
On Thursday, Le Mars announced a voluntary water restriction, and offered creative water-conserving ideas that include watering lawns only before 6 a.m.; checking plumbing for leaks; cleaning patios and sidewalks with a broom instead of a hose; taking shorter showers, and avoiding running water continuously when brushing their teeth.
Le Mars is also suspending its hydrant flushing program and asking city officials to minimize street flushing and watering golf courses.
If the hot, dry spell continues and the city is unable to curb its water usage by at least 10 percent, the city may enact stage II of water restriction, in which certain activities are banned outright, including filling pools and washing driveways.
In nearby Remsen, a water restriction was announced on Tuesday. Mayor Joel Fisch said residents are asked not to water their lawns between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., and if they do water, to follow the odd-even system - odd-numbered houses water on odd-numbered days, and even houses on even days.
The decision in Remsen was reached, Fisch said, because of limited well water supply.
Kingsley Mayor Rick Bohle said residents are asked not to water lawns between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
"That watering doesn't do a lot of good, you know, because the heat of the day, it just evaporates about as quickly as it hits the ground," Bohle said.
Kingsley is also asking residents not to water on Sundays, "to give the wells a day to rest," Bohle said. Places with newly-seeded grass, he added, are exempt and may be freely watered.
"People have been very good," Bohle said. The city has managed to cut back water consumption in the city by a few hundred thousand gallons per day.
Despite having far higher water demands, Sioux City and South Sioux City have not instituted drought-based water restrictions in many years, and are unlikely to do so this year.
South Sioux City Administrator Lance Hedquist said the city's water consumption last month reached a record 111 million gallons of water. And that thirst probably will be even more pronounced in July.
"I expect this month is higher," Hedquist said.
In Sioux City, Water Plant Superintendent Brad Puetz estimated that right now, Sioux City is using about 20 million gallons per day, or about 600 million gallons in a month. In comparison, he pegged wintertime water consumption at about eight million gallons per day.
Sioux City has not had to institute a drought-based water restriction for "a very long time," Puetz said. The city has, however, issued restrictions because of unusual circumstances.
"A couple weeks ago, we did issue a water conservation, just a voluntary deal, for one day, which was not related at all to the drought or anything like that," he said. "We just had some equipment issues."
The reason Sioux City doesn't have to implement water restrictions, like its rural neighbors, is a matter of geography.
"The nice thing about our system is that our wells are recharged by the Missouri River, so as long as the Missouri River stays at stable levels, we don't see an impact on diminishing levels in our wells," Puetz said. "It's a big benefit for our system. We're not out in the country, where the water levels can be easily drawn down."