- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 29, 2015

OAKRIDGE, Ore. (AP) - Water restrictions in a city 40 miles southeast of Eugene are keeping residents from watering lawns and filling up swimming pools.

A community well at 23 feet below the normal level for this time of year had members of the Oakridge city council unanimously approving the California-like restrictions Tuesday, The Eugene Register Guard reported (https://bit.ly/1D8X9vN).

City Administrator Louis Gomez says it’s been four decades since Oakridge saw drought conditions this severe.

“Are we out of water? No,” he said, “but we don’t want to take that risk.”

Gomez said the restrictions will be revisited in a couple weeks and could become more stringent. Watering plants, for example, could be reduced from 20 minutes to 10.

“If our wells are not replenishing themselves at the normal rate, then the chances of us depleting the wells is that much greater,” Gomez said.

Residents are also banned from washing cars in driveways, with repeat violators facing fines starting at $250. A fourth violation carries a $500 fine and could lead to the city shutting off water service.

California and Oregon governors have both imposed orders intended to reduce water consumption as drought conditions persist.

Oakridge joins Junction City in imposing mandatory restrictions. A dozen other local governments have implemented voluntary use restrictions.

Gomez says city officials are working to warn people about the new rules.

“We’re not going to be jumping on anyone (Wednesday),” Gomez said. “We’re trying to get the message out.”

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Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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