Carson City officials enacted emergency water restrictions Monday, telling westside residents to stop outside watering immediately until storage tanks can refill to a safe level.
Neighborhoods north of Kings Canyon Road and west of Ormsby Boulevard affected by the ban will be restricted for at least two to three days. All other city residents and businesses are asked to voluntarily cut down on water use until summer ends.
"The Lakeview and Timberline areas are our main concern," said City Manager Linda Ritter. "We're hoping we can recover in the next two to three days."
Tank levels in the Timberline and Lakeview areas dipped below 10 percent Monday morning, while tanks across the city continued to lose capacity.
Residents are continuing to use more water than the city can produce, officials said. By 2 p.m. Monday, water customers had used 1.6 million gallons over what was produced during the morning hours.
The city will decide Wednesday afternoon whether to lift the ban, depending on storage levels.
Those who violate restrictions will not be fined, but city workers will monitor neighborhoods and approach violators to encourage cooperation, said Water Operations Chief Curtis Horton.
The Carson City School District, Western Nevada Community College, city parks not using reclaimed wastewater and state offices including the Capitol grounds must also stop outside watering until further notice. Parks and facilities using reclaimed wastewater will continue to irrigate.
The city could easily face another water crisis this year if people fail to cut back on usage, said City Engineer Larry Werner.
"If usage continues, we'll be right on the edge (all summer)," he said.
Red flags were raised Monday after some tanks reached 20 percent capacity. The threat of thunderstorms and wildfire caused city officials to enact the emergency measures, Ritter said. A similar ban caused by a mechanical failure was enacted more than two years ago.
Crews mobilized portable water tanks throughout the city to prepare for fires as lightning strikes moved through the area. With the dangerously low tank levels, a fire truck could deplete an entire neighborhood's water supply by connecting to a city hydrant, Ritter said.
Lightning strikes and power outages have recently caused a number of wells to stop producing for up to 30 minutes. Some pumps restart automatically after a power outage, but others need to be manually restored.
The city is facing a serious water shortage from a low water table caused by five years of drought and production problems. Two wells, which usually supply 1,200 gallons per minute, went dry a month ago after the pumps failed. City officials expect to restore operations within a week.
"Our regular wells are not producing what we're used to," Ritter said.
City workers went door to door on the west side Monday, informing residents of the mandatory restriction or leaving information on doorknobs, About 1,000 residents live in the affected area.
Supervisor Robin Williamson, a resident of Lakeview, said her family turned off the outdoor sprinklers and hopes her plants will survive the temporary water shutoff.
"We just have to kind of bear with it," she said. "We all need to just work together on this and be a little bit more conscious of how we use water."
The city will start two new wells this summer, adding to 26 already in operation. Four additional wells will be drilled next year, said Werner.
Water usage topped 20 million gallons a day last week, 1 million more gallons than produced. The city is expecting pump replacements and the startup of the state's Marlette Lake water production to curtail the shortage.
Residents are restricted to a water schedule every summer, with people required to water on odd and even days, according to their addresses, and not water on the 31st of any month. The city issues fines for not following the restrictions from June 1 through Oct. 1.
Neighborhoods affected by water restrictions
Silver Oak, (west of Ormsby Boulevard)
Kings Canyon Estates
Contact Jill Lufrano at email@example.com or 881-1217.