Zionsville residents will have to pass up having thick, green grass on their yards as the town flirts with dangerously low water levels.
Citizens Energy Group has a ban in effect that restricts lawn watering for all of their customers due to extremely low levels in the Geist, Morris and Eagle Creek reservoirs.
Some communities in central Indiana, such as Indianapolis, are enforcing the ban with fees and fines, which is something Zionsville cannot do.
“Citizens has issued a ban, and Indianapolis has put an ordinance in place to enforce that ban for their system,” Town Manager Ed Mitro said. “We are not Indy. We can’t enforce the ban because it’s not our system. We are just strongly encouraging everyone to go along with the ban. If we could enforce the ban, we would, but we can’t.”
Sarah Holsapple, media relations coordinator for Citizens, said the ban went into effect in Zionsville because they were receiving several calls about low water pressure.
“We had a record amount of water used in one day,” she said. “There was 233 million gallons used on (Thursday) June 28. Our average for a July day is 175 million gallons.”
Holsapple said after they issued a ban, the level of usage did go down.
“The last several weeks, we’ve been steady around 200 million gallons a day, but our average is 175 million,” she said. “We are hoping this new effort and ban in Marion County will reduce the usage level by about 25 to 30 million gallons.”
Holsapple said 40 percent of the water usage is for lawn irrigation.
“If people really cooperate with the ban, the usage level will go down,” she said. “Zionsville has been doing a pretty good job so far. Zionsville’s portion is not great, but the impact has been seen.”
The ban prohibits sprinkling, watering or irrigating of grass; washing cars, trucks, trailers, mobile homes, railroad cars or any other type of mobile equipment, except as required by applicable local, state or federal law for health or safety reasons; using water to clean sidewalks, driveways, paved areas, structures, buildings or other outdoor surfaces; filling empty swimming pools; installing new landscaping or new lawn by using sod until return to normal conditions are declared; using hydrants except for fire suppression or as otherwise directed by Citizens; and operating water fountains that are non-recycling.
The ban does make an exception for vegetable gardens and flowers, which may be watered every other day by a container or hand-held hose equipped with a shutoff nozzle. The ban also permits residents to water trees once per week.
Nurseries, automatic and manual commercial car washes, golf courses and parks are exempt from the ban, but each has some guidelines on what can be watered and how often they can be watered.