Watering ban takes effect for Indianapolis Friday


Water restrictions began in most of Marion County at noon today (Friday, July 13). But if the watering ban doesn't curtail water usage, Citizens Water says it can take the ban a step further.

The water ban imposed by Mayor Greg Ballard targets lawn watering, where an estimated 80 million gallons a day is used.  And most of that water, about 80 percent, comes from rivers and reservoirs. Chopper 13's Thursday afternoon flight showed the low water levels at Geist and Morse Reservoirs. Observers say they've never been this low this early in the summer.  So the mandatory ban is needed to maintain those levels.

"If we did not implement our plan, we would risk not having adequate water supplies or pressures for our customers," said Lindsay Lindgren of Citizens Water, "and for all of the uses of our water, including firefighting protection."

Citizens Water estimates the watering ban will save an additional 25 million gallons a day from customers, which will, in effect, lessen the demand on the reservoirs and allow Citizens to provide safe, dependable water for the rest of the season.

See gardening tips during the drought.

If the ban does not curb consumption, "Plan C is a complete ban of outdoor watering," said Lindgren, "and we would expect that would bring our demand down to 160 million gallons a day and we think that would be adequate. We think we still need precipitation, but we feel the next outdoor ban will be enough to provide levels."

As for how long the ban will be in place, consider that it would take six to eight inches of rain over the period of a month to get the reservoirs to a "comfortable" level.
The watering ban has homeowners wondering if they have to just let their plants and flowers die.  The answer is no - you can keep watering gardens and flower beds and shrubs every other day. But Citizens asks that you do it with a hand-held garden hose or watering can instead of a sprinkler.

You will also be able to fill up kiddie pools, but only to a one-foot depth. You can also top off your bigger swimming pools, you just can't fill them up if they were empty.

Use of slip 'n slides or water games that use free-flowing water is prohibited.

Feel free to fill up your bird bath.

Your regular indoor water use isn't affected, either. Bathing, washing clothes, running the dishwater are all fine.
"The big thing is for people to just be mindful of watering conservation while we're in this severe drought," said Sarah Holsapple of Citizens. "It's more important than ever to conserve this valuable resource."

Several businesses are exempt as well, including nurseries, commercial car washes, golf courses, and parks.
Even though commercial car washes can continue to operate, the ban means no car washing at home, and no car wash fundraisers for charity groups, schools, or sports teams.
The mayor's office says groups that hold car washes could face fines if they are caught.  Bishop Chatard's cheerleaders planned a car wash for this Saturday, but the squad has been forced to postpone it.

Southport, Brownsburg, Zionsville, Noblesville and Westfield these are all areas with similar bans or certain restrictions.

Carmel, which draws water from an underground aquifer, has not restricted water usage.

See more questions and answers on the watering ban.

See watering restrictions for communities in central Indiana.

If you see your neighbor watering the lawn with a sprinkler, it's best to have a quick chat and inform them of the ban. If you see a repeat offender and want to report it to code enforcement, click here.

Water conservation tips.