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Russell moves to restrict water even more





RUSSELL -- Beset by continued declines in water levels on its wells along the Smoky Hill River near Pfeifer, the Russell City Council has voted to move into its most restrictive phase of water conservation.

Under the city's fourth stage of water conservation, essentially all outside residential watering is banned.

Russell has limited -- but not banned -- outside water use since July 6.

The move to further restrict water use came when the Russell City Council met in regular session Tuesday. At the time, Public Works Superintendent Arlyn Unrein urged council members to move into stage 4, based on declining water levels.

Russell has two sources of water but has been unable to withdraw surface water from wells along Big Creek. As a result, the city has been forced to rely almost exclusively on a series of wells along the Smoky near Pfeifer.

The move comes almost two months after Councilman Larry Daugherty urged the council to move into the more restrictive phase but was rebuffed when no one stepped forward to second his motion.

"Yeah, we got it done finally," he said of taking the step to ban outside watering. "There was some discussion."

Much of it, Daugherty said, dealt with water use.

Along the way, city officials are hoping water falls -- and falls soon -- to replenish the wells.

"If we don't get rain," he said, "we're going to have to suck it up. We've got water, but it's not plentiful."

Daugherty, who seconded the motion by fellow Councilman Jim Cross to move into Stage 4, said he thinks everyone has been hoping moisture would come as the region moves into fall and winter.

That hasn't happened, however, even though he received nearly an inch of rain last week.

"What we need," Daugherty said, "what do you want to call it, a toad-strangler? I'm thinking 4 to 5 inches of rain."

As water levels have declined, Russell residents have responded to the call to reduce water use.

"It's about as low as it's ever been," he said of water use in the city. "Our patrons have done a good job of it."