Council keeps voluntary water conservation in

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Halfway through the month, local rainfall totals have already surpassed the annual August average.

But that doesn't mean Greencastle is out of the woods as far as water goes.

And while the city's well field appears in good shape despite the historic drought conditions that have existed since the end of May, this is no time to call off water conservation efforts, local officials agree.

To that end, the Greencastle City Council Tuesday night adopted Resolution 2012-26, declaring a Local Water Conservation Order.

The measure is a follow-up to the executive order originally signed by Mayor Sue Murray on July 23 and the seven-day extensions that have followed.

Passage by the City Council allows the order to remain in effect until it is terminated (the resolution gives that power to the mayor) once the drought and extreme weather conditions have ceased and the city's aquifer is at a healthy and safe level.

The Council action keeps the mayor from having to extend the order every seven days.

While the Greencastle area has seen 3.3 inches of rain already this month (the August average is 3.12), Putnam County remains in one of the driest areas in the country, Mayor Murray pointed out.

"It's nice to have some rain," she said, "but we're still in a very dangerous place."

She said putting Putnam County in a triangle with Terre Haute and Bloomington creates one of the "worst areas of drought in the United States," she said, noting that much reference has been made to the drought of 1988 locally.

"This is worse than 1988," the mayor stressed, calling it the worst drought in 56 years.

While locally the water supply continues to be more than adequate, the state has taken extra precautions in the face of a possible water shortage by ordering all municipalities to urge local water conservation of 10-15 percent.

All citizens are being urged to limit water use to essential needs only, and to discontinue using water for non-essential needs.

Residents have not been asked to stop watering trees or vegetable gardens or flowers, while local schools are being allowed to water athletic fields at a reduced rate (40 percent has been suggested).

Greencastle citizens have been asked to help conserve water by such means as:

-- Discontinuing washing their vehicles, except via commercial car washes that recycle water.

-- Discontinuing watering lawns.

-- Running clothes washers and dishwashers only with full loads.

-- Discontinuing use of ornamental or recreational water features or toys requiring a constant stream of water.

-- Discontinuing washing down sidewalks and driveways.

Meanwhile, Mayor Murray told the Council she received an email from DePauw University earlier this week informing the city that DPU has come up with a way to recapture and collect the water from its steam plant.

That recycled water from the steam system will be used to water university trees and the new sod recently put down in areas on campus, school officials said.

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