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Ashland calls for more water conservation

Ashland is asking residents to do more to curb their water use as the water level in Reeder Reservoir continues to drop.

On Aug. 11, city officials asked residents to cut back on their water use by 20 percent. Residents have accomplished that goal, Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught said on Tuesday night.

"The community did a great job of meeting the 20 percent," he said.

However, at the time city officials asked for the voluntary curtailment, 4 million gallons of water per day was flowing from the Ashland Watershed into Reeder Reservoir. Now, only 3 million gallons per day are coming in, Faught said.

The community was using 6.7 million gallons of water per day before the voluntary water curtailment began. The city is also required to release a million gallons of water into Ashland Creek daily.

In the winter, when people aren't watering lawns and gardens, the community uses about 2.5 million gallons of water.

Because irrigation consumes the largest amount of water, city officials ask residents to curtail irrigation by 20 percent.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, which cares for city parks, Ashland Community Hospital and Ashland School District grounds, cut its irrigation by 20 percent last week.

"With the shorter days and cooler nights, there should be minimal to no impact on plant materials with a reduction of at least 20 percent of irrigation timing," city water conservation analyst Robbin Pearce said.

City Administrator Martha Bennett said, if the community cannot cut its water use enough voluntarily, the city will have to institute mandatory water curtailment.

The city's mandatory water curtailment provisions include four stages, with each stage placing greater restrictions on the amount of water allowed per water meter. If a household or business uses more than the allotted amount, the charge for the extra water is four times the normal amount.

"If we go there, it will have a significant effect on those who don't conserve," Bennett warned.

If necessary, the city could put 1.5 million gallons per day of Talent Irrigation District water into Reeder Reservoir, where untreated water for the city is stored above Lithia Park, Bennett said.

For information on how to reduce irrigation water use, call the city of Ashland's Conservation Division at 552-2062.

— Vickie Aldous