Due to continued drought conditions across the state, the Cloquet City Council voted unanimously to approve minor water use restrictions across the city at its regular council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
There will now be citywide lawn sprinkling restrictions on watering turf grass. Homes or businesses with even numbered addresses can water their lawns on even numbered days. Houses with odd numbered addresses can water on odd days. Bushes, flowers, trees and vegetable gardens can be watered on any day using a hose, drip line, bucket or tree watering bag.
No watering is allowed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to minimize evaporation. A 30-day exception shall be made for newly installed sod or seed outside of the prohibited 6-hour window.
According to city engineer Caleb Peterson, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has issued a drought warning phase on the state drought plan. Since the city provides water to a population of over 1,000, the drought warning phase triggered these measures to restrict water usage. All public water suppliers must reduce water use with a goal of limited water use to above 50% average January levels.
"For us, that number is right around a million gallons a day. So our goal is to get our production to around 1.5 million gallons a day," Peterson said. "To be honest, we're already at that level without taking this action due to some measures we've taken as a department."
The department suspended nonessential hydrant flushing until Oct. 1 and contacted the city's 10 largest customers regarding water conservation.
"With the cooler weather and a little rain, we've seen the usage decrease dramatically," Peterson said. "There were several times this summer where we'd approach or surpass 2 million gallons a day. Now we're closer to 1.2 million."
The restrictions come with a $50 possible surcharge for violations. Peterson said he doesn't have the staff to enforce that and said he hopes people will "do the right thing and limit sprinkler use."
"It's one thing if you're keeping an athletic field in good shape. If it's just about keeping a green, lush lawn, consider scaling back," Peterson said. "Let your lawns go dormant for the rest of this year."
Mayor Roger Maki said it's "a good plan, as long as I don't have to water my lawn."
"My wife will be happy that some of the new items we've recently had landscaped will still be able to be watered by hose or can," Maki said. "It's the right thing and we do what we have to do."
Further information about the restrictions is expected to be released to Cloquet residents later this week.