Water watchers: Southland towns mull usage restrictions
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY email@example.com June 14, 2012 4:32PM
A New Lenox cornfield shows the effects of the lack of rain this spring. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Water conservation tips
Water deeply, not frequently. Your lawn will be healthier if it receives about 1 inch of water every three to four days. Providing more will over-saturate the soil, causing water to run off.
If you have clay soil, water it slowly, or at intervals, rather than constantly. Clay cannot absorb water quickly, and it will just run off and be wasted.
Make sure you are watering the lawn, not the street or sidewalk. Water that falls on pavement goes into sewer systems, increases your water bill and wastes water.
Collect rainwater in a rain barrel or buckets.
Use a rain gauge, which will tell you how much rain has fallen and how much more water, if any, you should add by sprinkling the lawn.
Sprinklers are available with dials that can be set to water specific amounts at specific times.
If you have an automatic system, make sure it has a rain meter installed to prevent the system from running during rainstorms.
Place a layer of mulch around trees and plants to retain water.
If you are able, water the lawn in the early morning to avoid evaporation.
Source: Village of Tinley Park
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:20AM
In the wake of a dry spell that is nearing record proportions for June, Southland towns are monitoring water usage and are poised to impose restrictions if necessary, officials said.
Officials from Tinley Park, Mokena, New Lenox and Orland Hills, for example, were expected to meet Friday to discuss the issue, Tinley Park public works director Dale Schepers said. Those towns all get their Lake Michigan water through Tinley Park via Oak Lawn’s water delivery system.
The average consumption of these towns is 9.4 million gallons per day, Schepers said, but recent usage has averaged 17.5 million gallons per day.
Among those towns, only Mokena already has asked residents to voluntarily conserve water by reducing usage by one-third. During the hot days last weekend, residents exceeded Mokena’s allotment of 3.6 million gallons per day, public works director Lou Tiberi said.
“If people voluntarily reduce water use, and if we can keep it below 3.6 million, we might not have to have further restrictions,” he said.
Many communities restrict water usage from May to September, often by limiting outdoor watering during certain hours or allowing watering only on odd or even days based on a resident’s address.
In Orland Park, water usage has been “nothing out of the ordinary so far,” spokesman Joe La Margo said.
“Our water reservoirs are in much better condition than in years before, but we ask people to act judiciously about their water usage,” he said. “A lot of people worry when their grass turns brown because they think it’s dead. Gass doesn’t die, it just goes dormant. It will grow again once rain comes.”
About a dozen Southland towns get their water through Oak Lawn’s delivery system, where demand is monitored hourly, according to Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen.
“If we exceed demand, each community makes its own decision on conservation. We’re looking good right now,” he said. “We are doing our best to get through the next week or two. Everyone has to closely monitor it. We can only push so much water through in a given period of time. We will not endanger the system.”
Southland officials that use Oak Lawn’s system will have to decide by July whether to move forward with a $100 million overhaul of the delivery system to ensure adequate water supplies for future growth, Deetjen said. The system also would include a backup generator and surge protector, Deetjen said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Chicago-area forecast for Friday and Saturday called for high temperatures in the 90s with no more than a 10 percent chance of rain. Scattered thunderstorms and a 50 percent chance of rain were forecast for Sunday before a return to dry conditions and temperatures near 90 into the middle of next week.
Contributing: Hannah Kohut