McHENRY – In an effort to address potential water shortages, McHenry has adopted a new three-tiered system restricting outdoor water use.
The ordinance, which was approved unanimously by the McHenry City Council Monday evening, was developed by the Northwest Water Planning Alliance, a five-county intergovernmental organization looking to make the area's water supply sustainable.
A state study recently released predicted that unless immediately addressed, strained groundwater resources in McHenry County could lead to shortages and cause adverse effects on rivers, streams and wetlands.
The ordinance creates a three-level system that restricts outdoor water use to different degrees as opposed to the city's current ordinance, which allows the city to prohibit lawn water as a "knee-jerk reaction" when the city can't supply enough water, Public Works Director Jon Schmitt said.
The restrictions only apply to those on city-supplied water.
The default, or green level, restricts lawn sprinkling to certain days, depending on the house number. Even-numbered houses can water their lawns only on even-numbered dates, and odd-numbered houses are restricted to odd-numbered dates.
The yellow level restricts all outdoor water use, not just watering lawns, and expands it beyond just a day restriction, adding a time of day restriction. Properties can only be watered between 6 and 9 a.m. and 6 and 9 p.m.
During red conditions, all outdoor water use is prohibited.
Many communities, including Crystal Lake and Lakewood, have similar ordinances to the one approved by McHenry.