Thanks to cooler temperatures and more rainfall lately, the city of White Salmon has been able to relax its call for strict conservation measures a bit.
"We're going to drop our conservation level from `yellow' to `blue,'" explained White Salmon Mayor David Poucher on Friday. "People need to watch it, but if you want to water to get new shrubs in, we have enough water with rain and the coolness lately to let people go ahead."
With its aquifers not recharging sufficiently to keep up with demand, the city's wells have not been providing an adequate flow of water. As a result, residents have been under relatively strict water conservation measures since June.
In July, the city erected an informational billboard at Firemen's Park on State Route 141 on the way into town. The board, designed to emphasize the need for water conservation, has four categories showing increasing steps of restrictions: Green, Blue, Yellow, and Red. Green symbolizes no watering restrictions; while red is the most serious level, calling for strict, emergency conservation measures. Under the "Red" code, any non-essential use of water would be prohibited.
The city has been in the "Yellow" category for the past few months. At the yellow level, the city requires conservation methods as follows: "The city is experiencing difficulty meeting its water needs. There is no outside use of water except the hand watering or drip irrigation of plants, shrubs and gardens. There will be no commercial use of water such as dust abatement, power washing, etc."
Under the new "Blue" category, the mandatory restrictions are significantly reduced: "The city is experiencing some difficulty in meeting the supply. Water use is restricted to deep watering of lawns once a week. It is recommended that the watering be one inch of water applied early in the morning once a week. Water is not to run off the lawn area. Use of an irrigation system is recommended, but not required. Drip irrigation and hand watering of shrubs and flowers is allowed. Sprinklers and slip and slides for children to play in are not allowed. Car washing and pressure washing are allowed."
Poucher said people could use more water, but reminded residents that even with the changes in the weather, the White Salmon area is still not awash in water.
"We don't want people to go wild," Poucher said. "But if you want to wash your cars or wash your house or deck in a reasonable manner, we're going to try it. If people want to get trees and shrubs in the ground and give them a shot of water, go ahead. Demand for water has really dropped lately, but we still need to be cautious."