Shenandoah is Forced to Enact Water Restrictions Due to Prolonged Drought

(Radio Iowa) The prolonged drought is causing a critical water shortage in the southwest Iowa town of Shenandoah, where the city council voted Tuesday night to enact what it’s calling “stage three water rationing.” It’s the first time in 23 years the city has gone to that level of rationing. Shenandoah Water Superintendent Tim Martin outlined the provisions, which include restrictions for watering lawns.

“There will be no hoses used to irrigate, except even houses would be Mondays, and odd houses would be Thursdays,” Martin says, “and the hours for the irrigation for those days for people would be 6 to 10 a.m. or 8 p.m. to midnight.” The restrictions also include how residents can wash their cars.

“Just use a bucket to wash your car at home,” he says. “Otherwise, you can go to the car wash. They’ll still be open. These restrictions don’t cover businesses like Earl May that rely on water for irrigating their plants, or car washes, themselves. So, you have to use a bucket to wash your car.” Adding water to swimming pools or filling pools is also prohibited. Martin cites low water levels in the city’s wells as the reason for the city’s first stage three water conservation level since 2000. He says water levels are down 35 percent, based on a five-year average.

“In a normal year, we could run three or four wells and get the amount of water we’re getting currently,” Martin says. “But, since water levels are low due to the river being low — and no rain — we have to run all of the wells together at a lower setting.” Otherwise, the wells would draw the water down faster than it can be replenished and the pumps would shut off. Martin hopes residents use due diligence and abide by the water use restrictions.

“I spoke to my engineer and he’s looked at the numbers. He thinks Shenandoah is fairly conservative residential-wise, roughly 110 gallons per day per person is pretty conservative,” Martin says. “So, I think people are pretty good with their water usage, as we speak.” It’s unclear how long the restrictions will be in force. Forecasters are calling for widespread rain across much of Iowa on both Thursday and Friday, with some areas expecting up to three inches.

(Mike Peterson, KMA, Shenandoah)