There will be no running through the sprinklers to cool off in Dickinson this weekend.
Dickinson officials have issued a ban on all outdoor water use over the weekend after a day of record-setting usage left the city’s systems strained.
City Administrator Shawn Kessel said Dickinson used 5.7 million gallons of water Thursday, the most in its history.
“Our water distribution network is not able to keep up with the record-setting demand that we are having,” Kessel said.
He said the city will reassess the situation Monday. Until then, residents are asked to stop watering their lawns and gardens, washing cars and using water for any other unnecessary purposes.
The industrial sale of potable water has also been halted, Kessel said, adding that raw water can still be purchased in bulk at the Southwest Water vendor on the east side of Dickinson.
Residents are free to use water for everyday domestic and municipal purposes, though Public Works Director Gary Zuroff said in a statement that the city “greatly appreciates any other voluntary water conservation measures that residents or businesses can take.”
Production is not the problem, Kessel said, as the Southwest Water Authority produces 9 million gallons of water per day and is capable of producing 12 million gallons.
“We can’t get that water out through those pipes fast enough,” he said.
Temperatures are forecast to be in the high 80s and low 90s over the weekend and into next week, which Kessel said played a role in the decision.
However, help is on the way. Dickinson is the midst of investing $30 million into water distribution projects.
A water tower with a million-gallon tank is under construction on the northwest side of town and should be completed in October. A finished pump station is set to begin operating and two 24-inch water lines are being laid to serve the east and west sides of town, respectively. On Monday, the City Commission will review plans for a 500,000-gallon water tank on the east side of Dickinson.
It’s yet another sign that Dickinson’s population boom is outpacing its infrastructure.
“The water supply is not unanticipated,” Kessel said. “The pace of growth has simply surpassed our ability to construct.”
Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson said the city’s comprehensive plan formed in the winter of 2013 stated that the city could face water shortages in summer 2014.
“We’re not surprised,” Johnson said. “We knew the solutions to water issues were infrastructure investments at the time. By the time we get to next summer, we’ll be in a much, much better (position).”
Johnson and Zuroff both said that this weekend is about making sure the city’s water tanks have the chance to refill. Zuroff said city staff is continually monitoring water levels and hopes to reduce or remove the restrictions in the near future.
“You can’t fill the tanks overnight with the present pumping capacity when we drain them down as low as we do during the day,” Johnson said.
Zuroff said the last time Dickinson had a lengthy water restriction such as this was likely in the early 1980s.
“We’re hoping this is a real short-term thing,” Kessel said.