As summer begins to heat up, the City of Hays will implement its annual water conservation rules next week. The daytime use of outside water will be prohibited between the hours of noon to 7 p.m. from June 1 to Sept. 30.
The city has been implementing the regulations every summer since the 1990s, said Holly Dickman, water conservation specialist. The measures prevent outside water use during hot summer afternoons when evaporation is at its peak.
“It’s just making more efficient use of the resources we have and being as conservative as we can be in case we should ever get into an extreme drought situation again,” Dickman said.
It’s estimated more than 50 percent of water usage goes to outside irrigation in the summer months.
The watering restrictions also apply to private water wells within city limits.
The restrictions are enforced by Hays Police Department, and violating the summer watering policy can result in being ticketed. A first offense likely would be a warning, and fines increase with the number of violations.
The city also prohibits wasting water year-round, meaning there should not be excess water runoff from private property. Prohibited uses include washing sidewalks, parking lots and other impervious surfaces, as well as any known loss of water from faulty plumbing systems. The general ban on outside watering only is effective through the summer.
Special permits can be issued at city hall for residents who have an urgent need to water outside during the prohibited hours.
Those permits can be requested, for example, if a resident is converting their lawn to warm-season turf grass -- and the city also is offering a rebate program to help do just that.
The city long has offered a rebate program for residents who choose to convert from cool-season to warm-season grasses, which require much less water. The rebate program offers $1 per square foot of converted lawn, with a cap of $1,500.
An application form is available online at haysusa.com under the water conservation tab. A pre-inspection is required.
Dickman said June and July is the "prime time" to plant warm-season grass.
"If anyone is thinking about taking out their cool-season turf grass -- fescue, blue grass -- if they want to convert that to warm-season turf grass or a water-conserving landscaping of some kind, they definitely should check into the turf rebate program," she said.