Local watering ban lifted

FAIRMONT – The recent rain and snow hasn’t been for nought.

On Monday, Fairmont’s public works director announced the state Department of Natural Resources has given the OK to lift the local watering ban.

“Lake levels have bounced up and there is some flow in the Blue Earth River and Rapidan Dam,” said Troy Nemmers.

The DNR instituted a ban on non-essential water use in September 2012, basing the restriction on the low level of the Blue Earth River. Because Fairmont relies on surface water and the city is in the Blue Earth River watershed, the state gauges the water level at the Rapidan Dam when enforcing water restrictions.

In a letter to Nemmers, hydrologist Leo Getsfried offered the following words of caution: “Although recent precipitation has currently restored flow conditions, there is no way to predict if we are beyond the significant drought of last year or if there will continue to be adequate precipitation to sustain river flows above protection limits through the remainder of the year.

“Therefore, the city should be prepared in the event that it again becomes necessary to suspend non-essential water usage.”

Though the ban is lifted, tips and ideas for water conservation from the University of Minnesota have recently been posted on the city’s website, www.fairmont.org

Another conservation effort the city is encouraging is the use of rain barrels. A sale will be held 3-7 p.m. May 15-16 at 115 S. Park St. The cost is $60 per barrel, and there is no limit per household.

Nemmers encourages residents to “continue conserving where you can, and remember where we were in September and that we could be back there.”

City Councilman Chad Askeland asked that staff look into recouping some of the water that is going into the Blue Earth River. A meeting is planned this Friday with the DNR to discuss options for the city to recycle its water by discharging purified wastewater back into Fairmont’s lake system.

In other business, the council:

o Proclaimed April 26 as Arbor Day. The city’s park department will plant a new tree at the Winnebago Avenue Sports Complex at 1:30 p.m. Friday, and fourth-graders from St. John Vianney School will perform a short program.

o Approved a request for $6,000 for Interlaken Heritage Days.