How the city of Sioux Falls determines water restrictions as we experience heat & little rain

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The cities of Mitchell and Brandon recently implemented watering restrictions as we head into this hot, dry, and windy summer. Now, many are wondering if watering restrictions are a possibility in Sioux Falls.

“Cleaning, this is cleaning the filter, we call this back washing,” said city water plant engineer Tim Stefanich.

He is keeping an eye on some of the millions of gallons of water that come into the water treatment plant every day. There are three main sources of water for the city of Sioux Falls – the Lewis and Clark Pipeline, the Big Sioux Aquifer and the Big Sioux River. It all comes through this plant near the airport.

Stage 2 watering restrictions will go into effect when the Big Sioux River hits a flow of 50 cubic feet per second and demand tops 42-million gallons a day. At that point, residents would only be able to water their lawns once a week, depending on their address.

“The Big Sioux River right now is running at about 200 CFS, and so we are starting to get close to that 50 cubic feet per second limit, it could very well be a couple of weeks, it may be a month it all just depends,” said Stefanich.

In the winter the biggest use of water comes from flushing toilets, in the summer it’s lawn watering.
We go from using 16 million gallons of water a day in the winter, to more than 42 million gallons of water a day in the summer.

Stage two watering restrictions are not imminent, but Stefanich reminds people we are always in stage one, which includes odd-even watering days corresponding to the last two numbers of your address and no watering between noon and 5 p.m..

“There are a lot of new people in town and so they may not totally understand the stage of watering restrictions that we have and so this is a good time to maybe get that out and to say we are under odd-even restrictions and there is no watering from noon to five,” said Stefanich.

Stefanich says right now we are holding our own as far as water supply. As long as nothing unexpected happens with the Lewis and Clark pipeline or the Big Sioux aquifer supply, at this point the level of the Big Sioux River will determine if and when further water restrictions are called for in Sioux Falls.

Experts say one deep soaking lawn watering per week is more beneficial than several shorter waterings.

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