LINCOLN–(News Release June 1)–The City of Lincoln today announced efforts to conserve water due to extreme drought conditions in Lancaster County. Residents are asked to follow the City’s water conservation guidelines beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, June 2.

Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Director Liz Elliott urged residents to work together to ensure Lincoln maintains an adequate water supply throughout the summer.

“Water is an important community resource that we all share,” Elliott said. “It is through our collective efforts that we can safeguard our water supply for essential needs including cleaning, bathing, fire protection, health services, and waste removal, along with business and industrial uses.”

Elliott said that dry conditions have depleted the aquifer that supplies Lincoln’s wellfield to only 65% of capacity and that Platte River flow is at its lowest since 1956. Voluntary water conservation is the first phase of the City’s Water Management Plan, Elliott said, which emphasizes outdoor water conservation as the primary management tool. Overall, she added, Lincoln’s water use in summer is almost triple the amount used in winter.

A graph showing the water usage in Lincoln for May 2023 compared to recent years. (Courtesy of the City of Lincoln)

Elliott asked residents to follow the recommended schedule for outdoor uses such as watering lawns and washing vehicles. The water use schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday – Single family households and duplexes with addresses ending in an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9)

  • Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday – Single family households and duplexes with addresses ending in an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8)

  • Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday – All other property types regardless of address. This includes multi-family residential, commercial, business, office, industrial, governmental, townhomes with common irrigation systems, and medians and rights of way not association with an address.

Those with automatic sprinkler systems are encouraged to water only when needed on designated watering days. Property owners with more than one street address at the same location can choose either daily schedule and notify the Lincoln Water System of their decision.

The voluntary watering schedule for homes, businesses and apartments in Lincoln. (Courtesy of the City of Lincoln)

Steve Owen, Lincoln Water System Superintendent of Water Production and Treatment, said the first phase of the water management plan focuses on reducing outdoor water use because nearly two-thirds of the water Lincoln produces in the summer is used for watering grass and other outdoor purposes.

“These designated watering days are intended to provide flexibility. We suggest that residents and businesses consider watering just one to two days per week and we discourage property owners from watering all three designated days,” Owen said. “We encourage no outdoor water use on Mondays as a period to replenish Lincoln’s water supply.”

Dick Campbell, Owner of Campbell’s Nursery, said conserving water following the recommended schedule will not damage lawns and outdoor plants.

“The designated day watering schedule will easily allow you to keep your plants and grass alive and healthy,” Campbell said. “In fact, watering deeply just once a week is actually much better for your lawn than shallow waterings every day.”

In addition to limiting outdoor watering to one to two times per week, Campbell said residents can conserve water in a variety of ways including:

  • Water during the early morning hours to avoid evaporation.
  • Check sprinkler systems for leaks.
  • Increase mowing height to help keep moisture in your lawn’s soil.
  • Adjust sprinklers to water only the lawn, and not the sidewalk or street.
  • Use mulch to limit evaporation and retain moisture in the soil.
  • Plant drought-resistant shrubs and flowers that require less water.

The last time Lincoln issued voluntary and mandatory water restrictions was when the City’s wellfield at the Platte River was damaged by flooding in 2019. The last time Lincoln issued drought-related voluntary and mandatory water restrictions was in 2002 and 2012.

For more information on Lincoln’s voluntary water conservation efforts and how to conserve water, visit Lincoln Water System also provides water conservation information at 402-441-1212 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.