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Grand Forks asks residents to further restrict outdoor water use

Though not mandatory, beginning Thursday, July 22, residential water users in odd numbered homes are asked to limit the watering of their lawns to between 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, according to a news release from the city. Residential water users in even numbered homes are asked to limit watering of lawns to between 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Smiley and sun grand forks logo tower sign .jpg
The sun rises behind a water tower in Grand Forks. (Grand Forks Herald photo)

Grand Forks is now asking residential, commercial and industrial water users to limit their outdoor water usage as the city has entered the second phase of its drought management plan.

Though not mandatory, beginning Thursday, July 22, residential water users in odd numbered homes are asked to limit the watering of their lawns to between 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, according to a news release from the city. Residential water users in even numbered homes are asked to limit watering of lawns to between 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The further restrictions come about a week after the city asked residents to limit watering their lawns to between 4 a.m. to 11 a.m., two days a week.

The restrictions are a result of lowered stream flows.

The city monitors stream flows in our two water sources on a regular basis. The stream flows in the Red Lake River were 222 cubic feet per second (cfs) on July 21. In May, the Red Lake River was flowing at 543 cfs. The Red River had a stream flow of 650 cfs on July 21. In May, the Red River was flowing at 1920 cfs.

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Even with the rainfall this week, the stream flow numbers continue to incrementally trend down, the news release said.

Over the past week, the Grand Forks Regional Water Treatment Plant peaked at treating over 16 million gallons of water per day. With the implementation of Phase 1 of the city’s plan, the plant was able to reduce to 11-12 million gallons per day. There is an expectation to increase treatment to 12-14 million gallons per day. The water treatment plant can treat up to 20 million gallons per day, the release said..

With the decreased stream flow and a dry and hot forecast, the city felt it was time to move to Phase 2 of its plan.

“This is not mandatory. Residents are asked to voluntarily participate in limiting their outdoor water usage as part of Phase 2. The situation will continue to be monitored,” the release said. “Phase 3 of the plan is a mandatory restriction.”

Similarly, East Grand Forks Water & Light administrators on Wednesday asked Eastside residents to limit “nonessential” water usage, such as watering their lawns, washing their cars, filling swimming pools and using power washers.

Gnarlier restrictions could be coming later this week on either side of the Red River. That’s because East Grand Forks and Grand Forks’ water supply relies on the Red Lake River, not the Red, and staff at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have gradually been restricting the river’s flow at a dam that sits at the river’s mouth at Lower Red Lake.

To keep the lake at a prescribed level, the Corps is moving toward reaching the dam’s “minimum outflow” of about 31 cfs. At that rate, cities along the Red Lake River would be prompted to institute harsher water restrictions, and Corps staff are set to meet with representatives from city governments along the river on Friday morning to “re-evaluate” that minimum outflow level.

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