Homeowners and major water consumers conserved enough water Tuesday to replenish Carson City's supply and convince officials to end an emergency irrigation ban.
Residents living west of Ormsby Boulevard and north of Kings Canyon Road who were restricted beginning Monday as the city dealt with a water supply crisis will be allowed to start watering again at 7 p.m. today.
"It's made a big difference," said City Engineer Larry Werner. "We've seen a major change in tank levels. It's really been positive."
The city is still concerned about keeping water production at maximum capacity, said Water Operations Chief Curtis Horton. If residents rush out to pour water on plants and lawns when the ban is lifted today, it might strain the system.
"We don't want to end up with a situation where people want to make up for lost water," Horton said.
Wells in the Lakeview and Timberline areas were expected to fill to more than 70 percent of capacity, Werner said.
Monday, tank levels at the sites dropped to less than 10 percent. The dangerously low levels sparked concerns about the city's ability to fight a major fire, should one start in the area. Some west-side residents and major water users including the school district and state departments were asked to stop irrigating until further notice.
The city continues to struggle with its fifth year of drought, power outages due to lightning strikes and mechanical failures at wells.
Water watcher Shawn Heinz, 19, who is seasonally employed by the city to monitor neighborhoods for violators, said he drove all afternoon on the west side Tuesday and found sprinklers shut off across the area.
"No one's watering today," Heinz said.
By 4 p.m., Heinz hadn't written any notices, warning homeowners about violations. He usually writes six notices a day, he said.
Highlands homeowner Gary Helseth spent the day landscaping his back yard with rocks. "They don't need water," he joked.
The 30-year resident said he hoped his lawn would survive, but he would probably water the brown spots. It was the first time he has been asked to halt watering altogether, he said.
"It sucks," Helseth said.
Helseth said he would do what he could to comply with the city's restrictions, but he might sneak around with a bucket of water to save his flowers if the ban lasted.
"If they start to die, I'm going to break the law - I'll water 'em," he said.
City utility workers were out in the affected area until late Monday night, informing residents of the temporary ban. One worker said many homeowners in the upscale west side neighborhoods were "disgusted" with the news, some saying they spent $150,000 or more on landscaping.
Another resident of Manhattan Street in Kingston Park, who declined to give her name, said she was sorry to see the water shortage occurring when she was told many years ago the city had plenty of water for new subdivisions.
"We all have a lot of money wrapped up in our landscaping," she said. "It bothers a lot of people."
City water production is expected to get a boost next week when repairs are made to a high-producing well. The state's Marlette-Hobart water system that may start operating July 1 is also expected to aid the city's water supply.
Residents throughout the city are being asked to conserve water for the rest of the summer season.
Call the city's Water Watch phone line from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays at 887-2355, ext. 1025.
Contact Jill Lufrano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.