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City Of Polson Declares Water Emergency As Montana's Drought Continues

Garden sprinkler watering grass at home backyard.
ronstik/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Garden sprinkler watering grass at home backyard.

The City of Polson has declared a water emergency, and is the latest Montana community to implement temporary water restrictions. Water to 60 homes in the city was shut off Monday as the region faces extraordinary demand and low supply.

Officials say water service to homes was shut off after water restrictions, including bans on lawn irrigation and car washing, failed to adequately restore the city’s critically low reserve tanks.

“Oh, it’s not going over well,” City Manager Ed Meece says.

According to Meece, bottled water and a local school’s bathroom facilities were made available to affected residents. Service was expected to be restored sometime Monday evening.

The city of Polson draws its water from the local aquifer. Seven wells serve the community with an eighth under construction. Meece says demand is through the roof.

“We are producing, right now, a little over 800,000 gallons per day, but we’re only seeing about 550 [thousand gallons] show up at the wastewater treatment plant. That means we’re losing about 250,000 gallons of water that’s not coming back.”

That doesn’t include water used at city parks and the public golf course which is sourced from local irrigation canals. City officials believe residents are using a tremendous amount of aquifer water to irrigate lawns.

“We also suspect our wells may not be pulling as much water as expected from the aquifer since we are in our 20-plus days of 90-degree heat and very little rainfall,” Meece says.

The City of Polson is prohibiting what it deems as unnecessary use of water; including car washing and the watering of residential and commercial lawns.

Helena City officials implemented mandatory water restrictions earlier this month. Citywide water restrictions have been or will soon be implemented in several Montana communities including Bozeman and Billings.

Polson officials predict demand isn’t likely to diminish anytime soon. Meanwhile a lot more hot, dry weather is still on tap this summer.

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