By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Carlton restricts outdoor watering due to severe shortage

CARLTON — A severe water shortage has prompted officials in Carlton to sharply curtail customer consumption.

Customers may no longer water lawns, wash cars, fill pools, operate decorative water features or wet down hard surfaces without running afoul of city restrictions. Violators are subject to fines up to $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second and $300 plus up to 30 days in jail for a third.

Residents may continue to water their gardens, but only on an odd-even basis, according to their addresses. All other outdoor use is being banned until conditions ease.

City Manager Chad Olsen announced the restrictions Tuesday morning, citing a prolonged period of hot, dry weather, coupled with a depleted reservoir and a lower-than-normal flow from other sources.

“Over the weekend, looking at the recharge rate of the reservoir, capacity and consumption, and talking with the engineer, it became really obvious we needed to cut back on use,” he said.

The city council Monday night approved the new restrictions, which come on the heels of an earlier, milder set, which went into effect July 20. Aimed at reducing city water use by 50,000 to 100,000 gallons per day, they limited customers to odd/even lawn watering.

However, Olsen said, “We didn’t notice any change in our consumption.” Some users continued watering, saying they didn’t know about the rules, although they were posted numerous places, published in the News-Register and on the city website, and discussed on the local Facebook page.

This time, he said, the city is redoubling its efforts to inform customers of the tight restrictions.

“We’re taking this pretty seriously,” he said. “Engineers have told us, based on current rates, we have only a 25- to 30-day supply. We need to curtail our consumption to bring it in line with our supply.”

Carlton’s public pool will remain open, Olsen said. But the city has quit watering its grass, including that in the heavily used upper city park. It also is no longer washing vehicles or flushing hydrants, he said.

He said residents may apply for hardship exceptions by calling city hall at 503-852-7575.