By Associated Press • 

Junction City declares 'moderate' water emergency

 

JUNCTION CITY — Like many of his neighbors, Junction City resident Tom Endersby found the notice hanging from his doorknob Monday morning, alerting him that the city had ordered homes and businesses to restrict their outdoor water use in order to conserve the capacity of municipal wells.

“With the weather we've had now, it's pretty obvious that something was going to have to take place,” Endersby said. “This is Oregon; when we have weather like this, we just need to adjust.”

Not long after receiving his notice, Endersby already had adjusted his sprinklers to 20 minutes or fewer per area.

“Anytime it wants to rain again would be fine,” he joked.

The “moderate” water emergency declared Monday follows a City Council meeting last week to discuss restricting water use because of low river flows that have caused the groundwater for the city's wells to drop.

The city has four wells. The wells have the ability to extract a total of up to 1,250 gallons of water per minute, but as of last week's council meeting they were pumping only 950 gallons per minute.

By early this week, it was 850 gallons per minute.

The restrictions include limiting watering of lawns and gardens to evening and early morning hours on weekdays, and no such watering on weekends. Further, residents whose addresses are even-numbered can only water on even-numbered days, and vice versa for residents with odd-numbered addresses.

The city said it was imposing the restrictions to ensure there's enough water available for domestic use and emergencies.

Public Works Director Gary Kaping recalled a water restriction about 10 years ago that was the result of the loss of a production well, not because of drought-like weather conditions.

The duration of the current restriction is hard to predict because it depends on how much residents conserve and also on the weather, Kaping said.

If things get worse, the city could impose a “severe” water emergency that would not allow any outside water use at all.

On Monday, public works employees went door-to-door delivering notices of the restriction. Kaping said the majority of reactions have been positive.

“You're always going to have one or two (negative reactions),” he said.

Resident LeRoy Terrien said that while the restriction isn't particularly burdensome, the amount of water it will conserve “won't amount to anything.” Terrien said he already waters his lawn every other day.

“All I've got to do is make it the odd days instead of the even days,” he said.

Terrien said he believes the majority of city residents already use less than the amount of water that the restrictions require.

“I can't see where they're gaining anything because that's what we do anyway, most of us,” Terrien said.

He and many other residents also already water their lawns only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., as the restrictions require, Terrien said.

“(During the day), only half of the water gets in the ground,” Terrien said. “The rest gets sucked up when it's hot.”

Resident Lin Campbell, on the other hand, said she thinks the restrictions are too harsh. Campbell said she wishes watering was allowed every other day on weekends as well as on weekdays.

“I would rather it wasn't quite so drastic,” she said.

Campbell tends her plants and a small garden of blueberries, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers, and she said she fears that they will not survive under the new restrictions.

“They won't last,” Campbell said.

Michael Southey said he is not surprised by the water restriction and does not see it as an inconvenience. Having lived in Orange County, California, before moving to Oregon in the late 1970s, Southey said he has experience with water shortages. “Water is a little bit of a problem down there,” he joked.

Jeff Borgaard said he understands the scarcity of water and the reasoning behind the restrictions. “Everybody needs water,” he said.

Borgaard and his wife garden as a hobby, and use sprinklers and a hose to water their plants and lawn. Borgaard said he has no problem cutting back on his water usage but worries about the length of the recent drought.

“We'll persevere through it, but it is what it is until the weather cools off,” he said.

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