July 29, 2022 |

In Rawlins, the water levels in the treated water storage tanks rebounded this week after falling below 50 percent last Friday. Despite community-wide water usage remaining around 2.1 million gallons a day, the tanks were 58 percent full on Tuesday. The flows and storage data on the city web site shows the water levels rose to as high as 73 percent over the weekend before falling again during this past week.

After the storage tanks dropped to a critical stage last week, city officials issued a statement saying that “a $250 fine will be issued immediately for irrigation violations.”

On Thursday, Community Relations Director Mira Miller issued a clarification.

The clarification came in response to a question from Bigfoot 99 about whether any residents were issued fines this week. City ordinance requires at least one warning be given before a fine of $250 to $750 is issued.

Officials were concerned that the water storage situation, combined with lower inflows from the well system into the treatment plant, could starve the system, creating an emergency situation where “Limited Water Use” would be declared. Under this scenario, all outdoor irrigation would be off-limits.

City Manager Sean Metcalf said the focus this week has been working with residents rather than issuing fines.

Rawlins and Sinclair, which share the same municipal water system, were without potable water for several days in early March following a catastrophic failure that depleted the storage tanks. With that crisis still fresh in everyone’s memory, officials were quick to hit the pause button when storage tanks reached a critical stage last Friday.

Old watering habits are hard to break. The flow data of two million gallons of day this July is at least half of the amount of water usage in Rawlins and Sinclair last summer. According to an eight-page report released in April following the water crisis, water usage reached four to six million gallons a day last summer. During winter months, usage drops to about one million gallons a day.

In March, the aging and neglected pipeline infrastructure combined with maintenance issues at the treatment plant failed. As improvements and repairs to the system continue, Metcalf said the city is forced to take the issue seriously to avoid another catastrophe. This includes cracking down on residents who irrigate their properties outside the posted regulations.

Pictured above: File photo of Rawlins City Hall. Photo by Cali O’Hare/Bigfoot 99.

Metcalf said additional water department staff members are being trained on enforcing the regulations, and will be sent out into the community to make sure residents are complying with the regulations. If you’re in a situation that requires additional watering, such as installing, you are encouraged to call city hall and make special arrangements.

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