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Reminder: Billings lawn watering restrictions take effect Monday

Posted at 4:56 PM, Aug 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-01 20:00:07-04

BILLINGS — In order to allow Billings Public Works staff time to perform maintenance on water system equipment, city residential, business and government property owners are asked not to water their lawns on Mondays, starting Aug. 2.

The lawn watering restriction will remain in effect until Sept. 15, according to a media release issued last week from the Billings Public Works Department.

Since the start of the summer, the equipment running the Billings municipal water system has been working at peak capacity. The high demand for water usually isn't seen until the last few weeks of August, according to the release.

“It comes as no surprise that people want to make their lawns green, their landscapes green during this hot summer, we completely understand that, but it’s putting a lot of stress on our system. We’re pushing it to 90-95% capacity and we’re doing that day in and day out,” Billings Water Quality superintendent, Louis Engels, told MTN News last week.

A view of the Dick Johnson Bridge over the Yellowstone River in Billings from the Montana FWP East Bridge Fishing Access Site. The waterline on Aug. 1 was approximately 20 feet below the bottom of the boat ramp.

The lawn watering prohibition on Mondays is part of city Stage 1 water restrictions and apply to all users served by the city or the Heights Water District.

Properties hooked up to well water or irrigation ditches are exempt from the city water restrictions, according to the release.

The restrictions will allow city water tanks to fully fill. The sustained stress on the water equipment puts the system at risk of failure. The day of lower use will allow city staff to perform necessary maintenance on the equipment, according to the release.

Another thing working against the Billings water system is low water levels in the Yellowstone River. The low levels increase the amount of moss and debris that can clog up the system.

Data showing the cubic feet per second of water flowing through the Yellowstone River near Billings from May through July 2021.

If the Stage 1 water restrictions are effective, city staff won't have to further restrict water use, according to the release. Questions or concerns can be directed to the Billings Public Works Department by calling 406-657-8230.

Tips to Decrease Water Use from City of Billings

  • Use a broom, not the hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks
  • Water during the early parts of the day, as this will cause less evaporation
  • Only water your lawn when it really needs it (about 1” a week)
  • Position sprinklers carefully so as not to “water” paved areas
  • Set a timer to avoid over-watering
  • Plant drought-resistant plants and use decorative gravel or mulch
  • Take shorter showers (time yourself)
  • Only do laundry/run dishwasher when you have a full load to wash
  • Don’t run the sink constantly while washing dishes or brushing teeth
A person pilots a boat on the Yellowstone River near the Montana FWP East Bridge Fishing Access Site.

RELATED: With record heat ahead, Billings engineers asking for water conservation