The Big Spring City Council is expected to approve the emergency reading of a resolution moving the city from State 3 to Stage 2 of the municipality's drought contingency plan during its Tuesday meeting, making water conservation by city customers voluntary instead of mandatory.
The city has been in Stage 3 of its drought contingency plan for several months now, since the Colorado City Municipal Water District made multiple restrictions to water consumption by its municipal customers due to the extremely low levels of its water reservoirs.
According to Assistant City Manager Todd Darden, the change from mandatory conservation to voluntary limitations will go into effect immediately following the meeting if the council approves it.
“Water customers are requested to voluntarily limit the irrigation of landscaped areas to Sundays and Thursdays for water customers with a street address ending in an even number,” Darden said. “Saturdays and Wednesdays will be for water customers with a street address ending in an odd number and to irrigate only between the hours of midnight until 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. and midnight on designated days.”
“Irrigation of landscaped areas is permitted at anytime if it is by means of a hand held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less, or drip irrigation system. Also, water customers are requested to refrain from washing cars and to continue to practice water conservation and to minimize or discontinue water use for non-essential purposes. Wasting of water is still very much prohibited.”
Darden said the voluntary restrictions should get the city through the winter months — historically, the least demanding time of the year for municipal water services. However, if water usage increases too much, municipal customers could find themselves right back where they started.
“Because of the move from mandatory restrictions to voluntary conservation practices, we'll be watching consumption levels very closely,” Darden said. “If we can't achieve the level of conservation necessary, then we'll simply have to go back to Stage 3 and mandatory restrictions.”
Darden said he doesn't expect that to happen, however, as most area residents have a much deeper understanding of ongoing drought conditions these days.
“You know, until you actually have to live through those conditions, the idea of such severe drought conditions and mandatory water conservation is a bit abstract to most people,” he said. “After having lived through the last couple of years, however, and seen how we've struggled to maintain a viable water source, I think a lot of people have a much better understanding of the situation and the necessity of water conservation in our area.
“I feel like we've done a good job of reaching out to our customers — both through the notes on their water bills and through the media — and educating them on what's going on. That goes a really long way in supporting water conservation and our citizens have readily shown that.”
Also during Tuesday's meeting, the council is to approve plans and specifications for renovations to its water and wastewater systems, dubbed Phase A of the voter-approved project to overhaul the municipal water systems.
The $13 million project — which the Big Spring Economic Development Corporation picking up the majority of the tab — was approved by voters in May.
As part of the agreement between the council and the Big Spring EDC board of directors, the EDC will provide $750,000 a year for the first two years, and then 40 percent of its sales tax revenue — with a floor of $500,000 and a ceiling of $750,000 for the following 18 years — with the city of Big Spring picking up the remainder of the tab.
Tuesday's meeting is to get under way at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.