City of Cedar Rapids Urges People to Start Learning about Drought Plan

By Addison Speck, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Despite two days of rain then snow, Cedar Rapids city leaders said it won't be enough to throw out its drought response plan. On Tuesday, residents were invited to learn more about the proposed plan that, if passed, could be put to use as early as March.

"When you look at the moisture deficit of 10 to 12 inches at this point, 2 to 4 inches of snow is helpful but it doesn't solve the problem or change the long-term forecast," said Steve Hershner, the Interim Cedar Rapids Utilities Director. Hershner said they are starting the discussion now so residents and business owners have time to educate themselves about what's to come. "If drought conditions continue to get more severe, then changes will have to be made in terms of our demand," Hershner added.

The city said this drought plan will ensure water will always be available for public health and sanitation purposes. The plan has four drought stages: Drought Watch, Drought Alert, Drought Warning, Drought Emergency. Depending on the stage, depends on if residents are being asked, urged, or expected to restrict water usage. For example, in the watch stage customers are asked to use water wisely. In the warning stage customers are expected to reduce water usage by 15 percent and are restricted from doing things like hosing off paved areas.

This could be challenging for businesses who rely on water to provide services. Tyler Allen, with Culver's Landscaping, came to give input at the meeting on Tuesday. "We understand that if it gets to a certain level and water can only be used once a day. We are fine with that," he said. But Allen hopes residents, industries, and businesses like Culver's, will start sing water smartly now, so it doesn't get to the emergency level. "Looking at everyone who uses the water in the area and try to conserve it. Obviously if would be great if mother-nature would help us out with rain and snow," he added.

Hershner said people can take proactive steps right now by staying informed on what is happening and making small changes. "If they are thinking about replacing a faucet, a fixture, or a toilet, then they can go to a lower flow option," he said. Hershner said the city also provides water to parts of Robins and Poweshiek Water Association and he said they will expect those residents to follow the same reduction requests as customers in Cedar Rapids.

If you would like more information on the plan you can visit: www.cityofCR.com/Drought
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