Coeur d'Alene water officials say the hot weather this summer has translated into much higher water usage by residents. They're hoping they can convince people to conserve the precious resource.
“A household can use 10,000-20,000 gallons a month for a normal household. Some go over 30,000 very few in the wintertime. In the summertime they jump up to 50,000, 60,000, 70,000. I've even seen some go up to 200,000, and they're not very big lots," says Coeur d'Alene assistant water director Kyle Marine. He says the city can use 39 million gallons of water in a single day in the summer. The maximum output of the system is nearly 44 million gallons.
Water officials have appealed in the local paper for residents to limit lawn irrigation to every other day. They also have an agreement for the school district and parks department to alternate watering days.
Marine says it's hoped the city's tiered rate structure for water bills will slow down some residents who may be watering too much. The system charges more per water used once customers hit a certain gallon threshold.
“So they use more than 30,000 gallons, it jumps up 40 something cents. If they use more than 50,000 it jumps up to 2 dollars per thousand gallons," he said.
Marine says, normally, the city sees a drop in use after people receive larger bills, but it didn't see that as much this year.
He says hopes the city will not have to resort to more drastic measures.
“Doing fines and restricting use is always a last resort. I mean, we don't want anyone's lawns to go brown by any means, but if we start using more than we should, we're going to have to implement some restrictions, which is something we don't want to do,” he said.
Marine says the city has several wells that are only used in summer to supplement lawn irrigation. At a cost of up to $2 million per well, and as long as a three-year process to get water rights and permitting, it hopes to avoid the cost and hassle just for a well that's used only four months out of the year.