HELENA — On Wednesday, the City of Helena dropped its Stage III water use restrictions, citing recent rainfall and cool temperatures having stabilized the mountain reservoirs that supply water to the City. The restrictions were originally set to expire on September 1.
“The City would like to thank the community for chipping in to help reduce water consumption,” says Helena Public Works Director, Ryan Leland. “This summer tested our water treatment system at levels we haven’t seen before. We are thankful our residents answered the call. It also shows that in order to adequately prepare for the future, we must invest in our systems to increase efficiency and capacity.”
The City enacted water use restrictions on July 1, due to concerns about the low reservoir levels and abnormally high demand on the treated water system. In June 2020, the City’s Ten Mile Water Treatment Plant produced 131.5 million gallons. This June that number rose to 167.2 million gallons.
Since the Stage III restrictions were implemented, the community saw water use stabilize throughout July. Despite unusually hot temperatures for much of the summer, the average production remained under 12 million gallons per day (11.7 million gallons) in July, which was a target for the treatment team. From August 1-23, the daily average dropped to 9.5 million gallons.
August often marks the highest water use levels of the summer, but low snowpack raised serious concerns about the City’s ability to maintain such high levels of use. Thanks to the community’s water conservation efforts, the City is projected to produce 140 million gallons from Ten Mile this month, which is 80 million gallons less than August 2020.
“Our water conservation efforts this summer will have a long-term effect for the City,” says Water Treatment Superintendent Ben Rigby. “By reducing our water consumption this year, it not only means we managed to avoid disaster this summer, but we also head into the winter with much healthier reservoir levels.”
Helena’s daily water use numbers for July and August, as well as tips for continued water conservation habits, can be found at www.helenamt.gov/ drinking-water