Marion County watering ban: Your questions answered

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A mandatory watering ban goes into effect at noon Friday for Citizens Water customers in Marion County (except Lawrence and Speedway).

Fines for violating the ban start at $100 for the first offense, increasing to $2,500 for repeat offenses. (More details here.)

Sarah Holsapple with Citizens Water explained that 40 percent of the water being used right now is on lawn irrigation.

"When you think about eighty-some million gallons going onto people's lawns, that's what we're trying to cut back on," she said.

Other restrictions include car washing (although car wash businesses are exempt), using a hose to spray down your driveway or walkway,

However, you can still water vegetable plants, flowers and trees. Just don't use the sprinkler.

"If you are going to water, we ask that you do that with a handheld hose or a bucket so you can be mindful of how much water is going onto that landscaping," said Holsapple.

Watering existing plantings, including flowers and shrubs, is allowed. But Holsapple says customers are asked to refrain from putting in any new plantings right now "because that takes a lot of water to maintain."

Topping off pools is allowed, but filling swimming pools is not.

"We just want people to understand that conservation is important and the biggest thing is lawn watering," she said.

If you are concerned about a business or residence violating the ban, call the Mayor's Action Center at 327-4622. The Department of Code Enforcement will decide if they will be fined.

Exemptions:

• Nurseries
• Automatic commercial car washes
• Manual commercial car washes
• Golf courses
• Parks
• Customers with wells

Other questions (from WTHR's Facebook wall):

How can we report offenders? Call the Mayor's Action Center at 327-4622.

How long will it last? There is no definitive end date right now. Central Indiana is in a severe drought. Citizens Water estimates water usage to drop by at least 25 percent when the ban takes effect; that will help, but we need several significant rainfalls to take us out of drought.

Is it where you can't take a shower or use the sink or is just where you can't water your lawn? You can still use water indoors as you normally would, although you are asked to conserve as much as possible. The ban is on lawn watering and using water outside for purposes like washing your car, filling an empty pool or hosing down your sidewalk.

Will this affect commercial properties? Yes, although there are some exemptions, including car washes and golf courses that rely on water to keep their business going.

Are Indy Parks spray areas shutting down during this time? None of Indy Parks' spray grounds are shutting down. They do not use recycled water, but they are exempt under the ban because of the heat relief they provide to the neighborhoods. All spray grounds are run on motion sensors – meaning if no one is using them, the water shuts off. See all spray park info here. 

We are in Marion County but live in Speedway limits. Is Speedway also in this? No, Speedway is not included in the ban.

Watering of private vegetable gardens permitted? Yes. You can also water flowers and new plantings, but use a handheld hose, not a sprinkler.

So does that mean I can't drink any more water? You can still drink, bathe, wash clothes, use water for cooking and cleaning, etc. The restrictions are focused on outdoor water use.

If you are on a private well and have your own water supply, can you be fined for watering for watering your lawn, flowers or washing your car? No. The ban does not apply to residents on wells.

What about bird baths? It's okay to fill a bird bath.

How about children's collapsible pools? Small kiddie pools are okay to fill up (e.g. the pools that are a foot high.) But anything larger than that is not.

What about slip and slides? Anything that has a continuous running flow would not be allowed.