In the midst of a severe and unrelenting drought, the Hays City Commission approved a Stage 2 water warning declaration at its meeting Thursday night. The warning means the city will “reduce water to just enough to keep the roots of the grass alive on all parks and ball fields that utilize potable water.”
Outdoor water use will be prohibited from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and connections to the potable water system for irrigation also will be barred.
The move implements the second-tier fee for heavy water users, increasing the rate from $7.42 to $10.30 per 750 gallons. The fee will effect March water usage.
“Most people shouldn’t be affected by that one at all,” said City Manager Toby Dougherty, adding the city will ramp up its efforts to educate the community on conservation and regulations.
The city decided to move to water warning early due to the upcoming spring planting season.
“Knowing that a lot of people plan their lawns and gardens now, I would hate to see somebody plan a garden or a lawn replacement program and then penalize them later from a monetary standpoint through the conservation tier fee,” Dougherty said. “This gives people the opportunity to plan or not to plan knowing they’re going to pay more for that water usage outdoors.”
The drought is weighing heavy on the minds of city officials.
The next step in the city’s water conservation plan is a Stage 3 water emergency, which would implement even stricter conservation rules including a complete ban on outdoor watering and closure of municipal swimming pools.
Dougherty said the move will help “slow the rate of decline,” calling the move to Stage 2 pre-emptive.
City officials estimated that, at the current rate of decline, the city would have reached the need for a water warning by mid-summer 2014, with supplies requiring a Stage 3 water emergency in 2015.