Helena water consumption stabilizes, no new penalties for now

City water usage
Posted at 7:05 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-09 21:05:58-04

HELENA — Helena officials say they won’t be instituting additional penalties yet for violating water, but they still urge residents to limit their usage.

Last week, the city announced Stage III water restrictions, requiring homes and businesses on the city system to water lawns only on alternate days – odd days of the month for street addresses that end in odd numbers and even days of the month for those ending in even numbers. They also call for watering between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. and 11 p.m., and only once a day.

Authorities said they put the restrictions in after several days of record water use during the recent heat wave. Since then, consumption has been noticeably lower.

“Right now, we have leveled out; it’s stabilized, which is what we were hoping with the first stage restrictions,” said public works director Ryan Leland.

The city has posted a graph on its website showing updated daily water usage. The peak consumption has fallen from more than 16 million gallons on July 2 to just over 14 million on July 8.

Leland said one issue is that the city’s fire protection system relies on having sufficient water in its reservoirs. He said their water treatment plants are operating near their limit, so it’s still important for residents to conserve whenever possible.

“We are ramped up as high as we can go, and little glitches can cause some problems,” he said. “We’re hoping to see a little bit of a decrease.”

The city will be reconsidering whether to add any additional water restrictions on a weekly basis.