City to offer more flexibility in water usage in the coming days

BEMIDJI — The city of Bemidji is relaxing its water rules as the drought conditions in the area continue.

On Tuesday, the city announced it would allow residents two time slots for irrigation and lawn watering. Starting Saturday, citizens and businesses will be able to water their properties on Saturdays and Tuesdays from 4 to 9 a.m.

The non-essential watering ban initially started on July 20 after a resolution was approved by the Bemidji City Council at its July 19 meeting. The action was suggested by the city’s Public Works Department, which had received a letter from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, announcing the state was in a drought warning phase.

As part of the state’s drought plan, when a warning phase is entered, actions must be taken by water suppliers with a population of more than 1,000. Plus, the city had set a goal of protecting its aquifer during the drought through reduction efforts.

The city had already banned non-essential water usage on odd-numbered days, but more restrictions were needed to meet its goal. Non-essential water includes lawn sprinkling and vehicle washing, as well as watering golf courses, parks and recreation areas.

The only exceptions in the initial ban resolution were buildings and development projects required to have vegetation by city ordinances or permitting requirements.

According to a release, because of the ban, water consumption was successfully reduced in the last three weeks.

“On behalf of the City Council and staff, thank you to the residents and businesses for listening, responding and helping our city achieve our water reduction goal,” City Manager Nate Mathews wrote in a press release.

For more information, contact City Hall at (218) 759-3560.

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