City asks residents to use less water
City officials are concerned. Dry weather and increased use of water have combined to create a water shortage.
The city's water wells are low, which has prompted city officials to ask Tonganoxie residents to use an odd/even watering system. Under that system, residents whose house numbers are odd would water on odd-numbered days, while residents whose house numbers are even would water on even-numbered days.
"Our wells have drawn down to about nine feet, so we're having difficulty in supplying a sufficient amount of water," said City Administrator Shane Krull.
It's possible the city would enact an outright ban on outdoor watering, he said.
"We'll monitor it for the rest of the week," he said. "And of course on Monday we have a council meeting. At that point, depending on what transpires, we'll either ask for more or less. I hate to say it, but there really won't be too many more options."
In addition, city officials are asking that Tonganoxie residents exercise caution when celebrating Independence Day, which is Thursday.
"Fireworks are a danger every year for burns and safety, but this years is different," said Fire Chief David Bennett. "Several other cities and counties around us have already banned fireworks, both public and private, unless we receive rain. We considered a ban in the Tonganoxie area, but instead decided to issue this warning about the danger of fires when using fireworks."
Police Chief Kenny Carpenter said officers will issue tickets to people who violate the city's fireworks ordinances. Fireworks can be discharged between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, July 3 and 4.
"The recommendation was to ban all fireworks this year, and we have decided not to do so in honor of Independence Day and the first Fourth of July after the events that took place September 11," Carpenter said.
The water situation is unusual, according to Kent Heskett, city water plant superintendent.
"This is the first time we've had restrictions in the past two or three years, so it's not normal," he said.
If the water level dips to six feet, the city cannot pump water.
"I've seen it there a couple of times," said Heskett, who's worked for the city for 13 years. "We're pretty close to it."
Normally, the water well levels are at 13 feet or 14 feet, while last winter the level likely was near 20 feet, Heskett said.
He said he's hopeful the city will not have to initiate a ban on outdoor watering.
"That would be the next option," Heskett said. "We'll try to not get there."