Lake Forest’s odd/even sprinkling system to go on in perpetuity
Lake Forest residents will have to get used to the odd/even watering restrictions that will continue through Sept. 15 and begin again next May. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
What's the best sprinkling system for Lake Forest?
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:10AM
LAKE FOREST — Sitting on her front porch, Jean Buckowich isn’t happy with the state of her lawn.
“I don’t like the brown grass,” she said.
But with sprinkling restrictions still in effect following a short-lived sprinkling ban in town, Buckowich can’t help but wonder “what’s wrong with our water,” she said.
A postcard from the city mailed last week to more than 7,500 households thanking them for their adherence to the odd/even sprinkling restrictions and noting that the practice will be continued “on an annual basis from May 15 through September 15” gave her reason to pause.
“That means forever, all summer,” she said.
While it’s something Buckowich believes she can get used to, she’s not so sure about those who have automatic sprinklers set on a timer.
“I see them going,” she said. “I think people don’t know how to reprogram them.”
Irrigation systems on private property have caused the biggest strain on city water supplies this summer, according to Director of Public Works Michael Thomas.
“Hand watering, if a resident goes out to water flowers with a hose, that’s fine. That does not use a lot of water. It’s these irrigations that come on through the night. There’s a huge demand in a short period of time,” Thomas said.
City water usage hit 12 to 13 million gallons a day on the Fourth of July when a five-day watering ban was put in place.
“We got it down to 10 or 11 million gallons on a daily basis” with the odd/even restrictions, Thomas said. “People have been doing a good job.”
Neighboring Lake Bluff has had no watering restrictions.
The city mailed the postcards to all residents, with most arriving July 21. It cost the city $972 to print the cards and $1,480 for postage, according to Communications Manager Susan Banks.
But getting the word out quickly was important, officials said.
“The Dialogue, the quarterly newsletter, does not go out until the end of August,” Banks noted in an e-mail.
“We all agreed that we needed to lay down a baseline for everybody from this point on. This is something we’re going to look to do if we get in trouble again with a drought,” said Thomas.
“I think it’s pretty reasonable,” resident Susan Athenson said of the long-term watering restrictions the postcard implied. “It’s perfectly fine to water every other day.”
Even irrigation is okay, if residents comply with the restrictions, they cannot water between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on their designated days.
“Irrigation is fine, but we need residents to help manage its use,” Thomas said.