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Lack of rain causes

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By Jenny Hartley

No lawn-watering. No pressure washing. No car washing.

Your options on what you can do with your water will dry up come midnight tonight.

Due to the continued lack of rainfall and low stream flow in the Catawba River, Lancaster County Water and Sewer District officials issued Stage 3 mandatory water restrictions on Wednesday.

The restrictions will eliminate lawn watering, residential vehicle washing and refilling or maintaining empty swimming pools, fountains and ornamental pools.

"We are requiring extreme mandatory water restrictions, which will hopefully reduce water consumption by at least 20 percent overall", said LCWSD Manager Mark Knight.

Duke Energy has notified regional Catawba River water users of the need for Stage 3 water restrictions due to the current rainfall deficit and low Catawba River stream flow and lake levels.

LCWSD is joining other regional water suppliers in issuing extreme mandatory water restrictions to protect the shared water supply in the Catawba River and hopefully avoid going to the Stage 4 emergency situation.

"We are in a very serious situation and hopefully everyone will follow the restrictions so we can avoid an emergency situation," Knight said.

This is the first time Lancaster County has ever been under Stage 3 mandatory restrictions, Knight said.

What's not allowed

Mandatory conservation restrictions for Stage 3 are:

- No landscape and lawn irrigation and no operation of any type of sprinkler system by all customers

- Limiting residential water use to 45 gallons per person per day and a maximum of 150 gallons per household per day

- No washing down of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking lots, tennis courts and other hard-surfaced areas

- No washing down of buildings for purposes other than immediate fire protection

- No flushing of gutters

- No residential vehicle washing

- No use of water to maintain fountains, reflection ponds and decorative water bodies for aesthetic or scenic purposes, except where necessary to support aquatic life

- No filling or maintaining public or private swimming pools

Commercial customers, like restaurants and golf courses, can limit their water use by:

- Not serving water in addition to another beverage in restaurants

- Not maintaining water levels in scenic and recreational ponds and lakes, except for the minimum amount required to support fish and wildlife

- Limiting golf course irrigation

- Limit obtaining water from fire hydrants for construction purposes, fire drills or any purpose other than firefighting or flushing necessary to maintain water quality

- Ceasing water service to customers who have been given a 10-day notice to repair one or more leaks and have failed to do so

- Limiting the expansion of commercial nursery facilities, placing new irrigated agricultural land in production or planting or landscaping when required by site design review process

LCWSD will also be doing its part to intensify maintenance efforts to identify and correct water leaks in the distribution system, Knight said, and will not be installing new irrigation taps on the water system.

What is allowed

There are still a few things allowed under the restrictions.

Customers may still use drip irrigation, soaker hoses, hand-held hoses with spring-loaded nozzles and hand-held watering containers to sustain flower beds, shrubs and trees only. No lawn watering is allowed with these devices.

Animal and livestock watering is also allowed.

Commercial car washes and nurseries may still operate.

Violators face fines

The fines for disregarding the Stage 3 restrictions are the same as Stage 2. Lancaster County has been under Stage 2 mandatory restrictions for the past couple months.

A first violation means a written warning. For a second violation, $100 will be added to a customer's bill and an additional $100 will be added for a third violation.

The customer's water service will be terminated and restored only after payment of a surcharge of $500 added to all previously assessed surcharges and usage.

LCWSD employees, law enforcement officers and other authorized agencies will enforce the mandatory restrictions starting tonight, Knight said.

Lawn and landscape irrigation will be monitored closely because they continue to be the leading source of water waste.

The intent is not to see how many tickets, fines or disconnects can be issued, but to reduce water use.

LCWSD users have responded well and exceeded the initial goal of a 10 percent reduction, but the lingering drought conditions require more conservation, Knight said.

More information and water conservation tips are available at www.lcwasd.org.

To report violations or if you have questions, call the Lancaster County Water and Sewer District at 285-6919.