Lake Forest Asks for Adherence to Watering Restrictions

Without it, city could face another water ban during this summer's drought conditions.



, Lake Forest Public Works Director Michael Thomas expects the next two days to create a high water demand among Lake Forest residents, businesses, commercial properties and educational institutions returning to watering their lawns and plants.

However, it wouldn't take much to return to a full ban again given the continued drought conditions. While the temperatures have dropped from triple digit levels, there has been little accompanying rainfall. According to WGN weatherman Tom Skilling, O'Hare has recorded 29 percent of its normal rain since June 1 - 1.18 inches compared to the normal 4.06 inches.

At the July 2 Lake Forest City Council meeting, Thomas noted the water demand for May and June - 373.150 million gallons - was the second highest since 2005 when 420.732 gallons were used over the same months. By comparison, 247.688 million gallons were used over May and June last year.

Thomas said Monday that the city's water plant should be able to meet demand - and here's the catch - if the community as a whole observes the daily watering restrictions of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Watering is allowed from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m. on an odd/even schedule based on a property's address.

"Like any utility, water has its maximum," Thomas said. "It's up to the community, or we could be in the same position as we were on July 4 (water ban) if they don't adhere."

The latest notice sent to residents Monday included a phone number to be called if non-compliance to the watering restrictions is observed. Thomas said the city plans to enforce it.

"All of our personnel have been told to keep their eyes open," he said. "So if you're watering when you shouldn't and someone reports it, someone from the city will come to your door and ask that you stop watering."

There are obviously limitations to such enforcement, but Thomas can't underscore enough the need to stay within the restricted timeframes.

"If they water during the day, it won't give us a chance to build up our supply," Thomas said.

Thomas said the city has endured rough dry patches before in 1995 and 2005, but that this summer has presented "unprecedented conditions."

"The longevity is the difference," Thomas said. "When it rains, you can see the difference. The demand for water drops in a couple of hours. We haven't had that."

Lake Forest is receiving water assistance from the village of Lake Bluff, Thomas said. Two of the four interconnects between the two communities are open, and they will come in handy over the next two days as the city resumes watering. The city also has an agreement with Highland Park,  and just lifted it Monday with the same odd/even restriction as Lake Forest.

Lake Forest stores its water in two tanks. The main tank is 46 feet, and Thomas said at the July 2 City Council meeting that the operating level is from 30 to 42 feet. The booster tank located across from west campus is 16 feet tall, and if the level drops to 6 or 7 feet, the city needs to back off to keep those reserves for the fire department and other emergency needs.

Despite the drop in water levels that created the water ban over the July 4th weekend, Thomas said the quality of the water was never compromised.

"I've said it before, but we have one of the best water plants in the country," he said.

One good sign recently is the elevation in Lake Michigan's water temperature. Thomas explained that when the water temperature is higher, more water can be pumped out of the water plant.

"As fast as it can warm up, it can cool down just as fast," Thomas said.

For more information, see the attached Q&A provided Monday on the city of Lake Forest website.

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june luvisi July 10, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Thanks for such a clear explanation of the need for watering restrictions!
Chris Jensen July 10, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Why does Lake Forest have watering restrictions, but Lake Bluff does not? Is Lake Forest's water plant undersized for the population of its community?
Jim Powers July 10, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Hi Chris. Thanks for your question. Lake Bluff has been able to avoid water restrictions because it purchases its water from the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency (JAWA). According to the village, JAWA supplies 30 million gallons per day to 10 municipalities, and the plant has the capacity to filter and produce 40 million gallons per day. Lake Forest has its own water plant and the issues that can come with having your own.
RSG July 10, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Good article. I see so many people ignoring the ban. Why don't we hand out warnings? It isn't hard to find them, just look for the green lawn on the street. In walking around Lake Forest I have seen people only a block or two from the posted signs just watering any time of day. I think the police should give out warnings. I find the people arrogant who ignore the notices. Water is too precious to be wasted.


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