HELENA, Mont. – In response to record temperatures and high water use already this summer, the City of Helena has enacted Stage III water use restrictions as outlined in City Code. The declaration includes mandatory lawn watering and irrigation restrictions for homes and businesses that use the City’s treated water. The City-wide restrictions are effective July 1, 2021 and will remain in effect until September 1, 2021. The City is monitoring water use daily and restrictions are subject to change as circumstances evolve.
STAGE III WATER RESTRICTIONS:
- Odd number addresses shall water on odd days of the calendar month (e.g., July 1, 3, 5).
- Even number addresses shall water on even days of the calendar month (e.g., July 2, 4, 6).
- Watering shall be done between the hours of 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Watering should also occur only once per day.
Section 6-2-3 of City Code defines four stages of water use reduction, which account for system capacity, reservoir levels, severe drought, and disruptions in treatment operations. The City will continue to monitor water supply factors and evaluate the need to move to Stage IV if water consumption does not decline in the coming weeks. Stage IV prohibits all outdoor water uses and imposes a series of penalties for violations.
In June, the City saw record water consumption on multiple days. Helena’s Ten Mile and Missouri River water treatment plants were treating approximately 16 million gallons per day, which is 6 million gallons more per day than normal for the time of year.
Current water consumption is pushing City staff to capacity, with treatment plants struggling to keep up with demand. The Ten Mile treatment plant already operates 24 hours, 7 days per week. The Missouri River plant is currently running 18 hours per day. Though additional staff resources are being cross trained to help meet extended operating hours, the current pace is not sustainable.
The City has provided a list of water conservation tips through its’ website, www.helenamt.gov. Some of the recommendations include:
- Don't over mow. Leaving the lawn slightly longer shades the soil and does not stress the lawn as much. When it is really hot, let the grass grow to 4"-6" between mowing and then only cut about an inch or two.
- Mow in the late evening or early morning. The grass weeps water from the cut ends.
- Consider xeriscaping your lawn. Choose the grass, shrub, and trees that grow with the least amount of watering.
Water usage has been cut at City parks and facilities, including those that utilize well water, such as Kindrick Legion Field, Batch Memorial Park, and Bill Robert’s Golf Course.
Residents can the contact Public Works Department at 447-8430 with questions or concerns.