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August 30, 2012 06:10 PM

Why Lewis & Clark Doesn't Ease Restrictions

sioux falls, sd

Low levels in the Big Sioux River prompted the city of Sioux Falls to cut down lawn watering to just once a week.

Many of you are wondering why there is a restriction now that the city is receiving water from the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System.

Just over one week since the Lewis and Clark ribbon cutting, Sioux Falls leaders force homeowners to drastically reduce lawn watering to once a week. The Stage Two restriction was enacted after Big Sioux River levels dropped to 50 cubic feet of water per second flowing downstream. But why reduce water use if there is more water being piped in?

Utilities Operations Manager Trent Lubbers says the Lewis and Clark water is part of a long-term supply and is not a single answer for the city. This summer, water usage in the city averages 42 million gallons. But only 7 million gallons are pulled from Lewis and Clark. The rest comes from the river or underwater aquifers. And with uncertainty over how long the drought will last, Lubbers says the city doesn't want to drain all its resources so that it can ensure residents have water through the fall and winter.

City officials continue to monitor the river's level at a gauge in Dell Rapids.  If it drops below 20 CFS, they'll go to yet another level of restrictions, which is a complete watering ban.

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