WAYZATA — As the hotter months approach and grasses grow green, many residents seek to keep their grass green by watering them using city water.
But most cities have restrictions on when and how residents can water their lawn to conserve drinking water.
Rules in the metro area come from a 2015 Minnesota law to reduce water usage that requires any city in the seven-county metro area or any city with over 1,000 residents to reduce their water usage with certain techniques. According to the Department of Natural Resources Water Conservation Consultant Carmelita Nelson, this is when many of the watering restriction ordinances came into place.
Cities in the Lake Minnetonka area that have watering restrictions include Minnetonka, Shorewood, Plymouth, Mound and Wayzata. Excelsior does not have an ordinance on lawn watering but they do ask their residences to limit watering during peak daytime hours.
One of the only cities that chooses not to use lawn watering restrictions is Orono. Orono has never had any restrictions on lawn watering, Scott Oberaigner, Orono’s supervisor for water, sanitary sewer and facilities. Oberaigner did say the city has faced pressure in the past from the DNR to implement lawn watering restrictions.
Despite its lack of watering restrictions, the city of Orono does still have to reduce its water usage due to the 2015 law. According to the city’s 2018 Water Conservation Report, provided by the DNR, Orono has done this by repairing fire hydrants, replacing meters and increasing efficiency. Orono also uses a tiered structure of pricing, which brings down water usage.
According to Nelson and the University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota lawns don’t need much water. The U of M says lawns only need a quarter-inch of water per week to stay alive during the summer.
Minnesota summers tend to include large periods of rainfall followed by an extended drought. For those who use an irrigation system without rain sensors, it is important to use the system manually rather than having it water automatically every day, this prevents the lawn from being overwatered during a rainy period, the U of M says.
Grass may become discolored when the area is going through a drought period but that rarely means the lawn is dead, according to the U of M. Chances are the lawn will turn green again when it rains.
The city of Minnetonka website states, “It is important to remember that water is a valuable and crucial resource for human health, recreation and the economy. The amount of underground water is limited and must be used wisely.”
According to National Geographic, freshwater makes up very little of the world’s water. With 70 percent of the world covered in water, only 2.5 percent of that water is fresh and only 1 percent is easily accessible. A United Nations study notes that water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, estimating that by 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in areas dealing with water scarcity.
The cities of Minnetonka, Shorewood, Plymouth and Wayzata all have watering restrictions from May 1 to Sept. 30, while Mound’s restrictions run from May 15 to Sept. 1.
The city of Minnetonka disallows watering between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and has odd-numbered residences water on odd-numbered days and even-numbered residences water on even-numbered days.
The city of Shorewood disallows watering between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The city of Plymouth restricts lawn watering from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and also uses an odd/even sprinkling ordinance.
The city of Wayzata restricts lawn watering from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and also uses an odd/even sprinkling ordinance.
The city of Mound only uses an odd/even sprinkling ordinance.