Sioux City residents are being asked to voluntarily conserve water because of the ongoing drought. The flow in the Missouri River is low and Sioux City Utilities director Brad Puetz says wells that are used to provide water in the system are low, too.
“What we’re seeing right now is significant lower levels in those supply wells,” he says, “and we’re having to valve them back a bit just to keep those wells in water.”
Puetz says residents can reduce lawn watering, take shorter showers and adjust the length of washing cycles on dishwashers and washing machines — and he emphasizes these are voluntary moves for Sioux City residents.
“There is a conservation plan in place. This step does not start step one of the conservation plan,” Puetz says. “We’re trying to head it off as early as possible, asking citizens to conserve water in the home as much as possible.”
City officials are reducing street cleaning in Sioux City and will not flush fire hydrants unless it’s necessary. The Missouri River helps replenish the city’s water wells. Puetz does not expect the Army Corps of Engineers to boost the water flow out of the Gavins Point Dam upstream in Yankton, South Dakota.
“I can’t speak for the Army Corps of Engineers, but I think right now the max releases are going to say right around 25,000 to 26,000 cubic feet per second, just to meet navigation and recreational purposes,” Puetz says. “They’re dry up north, too. The larger basins — (Lake) Sakakawea, Garison and Fort Peck — they’re 10 to 11 feet low.”
Sioux City Utilities also provides water to South Sioux City, Nebraska and Dakota Dunes, South Dakota. Puetz says if customers start voluntarily conserving water now, it will lower the possibility the city will have to mandate restrictions early in the summer.
(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)