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The City of Norfolk is asking for some residents to voluntarily reduce some of their water usage as a drought persists this summer.

Dennis Watts, city water director, said the water systems are being stressed by the use of underground sprinkler systems on certain days.

“The high summer hourly demands are generally Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 2 a.m. until approximately 7 a.m.,” Watts said in a press release. “This is the result of underground lawn sprinkler systems. This causes some stress on the water system and may result in lower water pressures in parts of Norfolk.”

Watts laid out some recommendations for residents with sprinklers. All addresses ending in an even number should water lawns on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and addresses ending in an odd number should water lawns on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

"We believe taking these steps can result in less stress at the water plants which in turn will provide better lawn watering, as this will help to keep better water pressure in all areas of Norfolk," Watts said.

These guidelines are not in city code; the city is asking for voluntary cooperation.

For April through July, Northeast Nebraska is 6.5 inches behind the normal rainfall amount. A mild and relatively dry winter season combined with the lack of spring and summer precipitation has resulted in the water division seeing higher water usage than in the past several years.

Summer usage normally hovers around 7 million gallons per day. However, water usage has been trickling upwards. For example, on June 16, Norfolk water customers used 9.4 million gallons of water. But Watts said the city is taking a wait-and-see approach for now.

“We keep a good eye on the water levels and are in good shape so far,” Watts said. “Still, we encourage people to be smart with their water use and we will be watching whether the drought continues throughout the rest of the summer season.”

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