So, fellow, Wichitans, it looks likes we need to implement some big-time water conservation!  City leaders met today to discuss the conditions we've undergone the last few months and it looks like Drought Watch 2011 will be upon us sooner than we'd like to believe.  Here's the official statement from the City: 

Mayor Glenn Barham met today with Assistant City Manager Kevin Hugman and representatives from Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Water Distribution and Public Information to discuss the City’s response to the current drought conditions.

“It looks like conditions are going to put us in a Stage One: Drought Watch in the next couple of days,” said Mayor Barham. “City staff has been planning their response to this situation for months. Today’s meeting is another proactive step the City is taking to ensure that the public understands what we’re up against, how we’re going to react as a City and what cooperation we’re seeking from the public,” said Barham.

Public Works Director Russell Schreiber has set up a Water Restrictions Hotline where citizens can get information on current water restrictions, report water leaks and report a residence or business that is watering against what the City ordinance allows. The hotline number is 761-7477.

“We want the public to join us in conserving our water,” said Schreiber. “The hotline is an excellent way for citizens to report water leaks whether public or private or to report a residence or business that is watering when they shouldn’t be. We’re not trying to get anyone in trouble we just want everyone to know that we’re in this together and the more water we conserve the better off we’ll all be,” concluded Schreiber.

Public Works will validate and track all complaints. A first offense will garner a warning, a second offense will be sent to the Municipal Court Prosecutor for possible legal action that could lead to a maximum fine of $1000.00.

Parks and Recreation Director Jack Murphy explained that his department is doing what they can to conserve water by turning off many of the City’s 500 watering systems for grass and flowers and concentrating their efforts on saving as many of the City’s 25,000 trees as possible. Trees that are not mulched will be which will further save water.

“Our biggest investment is in our trees not only a financial investment but an investment of years of nurturing their growth,” said Murphy. “We’ll be focusing our watering efforts on keeping the trees alive. We would also like for the public to assist us in conserving water by reporting any water system leaks in the medians or parks and reporting any sprinkler systems that are on when they shouldn’t be by calling the Water Restrictions Hotline,” said Murphy.

The hotline will not be manned on weekends and nights. During this time citizens should call 720-5000. The public can go to the City website and from the homepage access complete details about Drought Management Stages 1-4, current water restrictions, water conservation tips, City Watering Ordinance and latest press releases related to water restrictions. The City’s FaceBook page is also a very good way to receive the latest updates and alerts concerning water restrictions.

“City staff has done an excellent job preparing for the response to this drought but we need help from the public if we’re going to get through this without having to take drastic steps,” said Mayor Barham. “I would just encourage the citizens to become familiar with our watering restrictions and to use the Water Restrictions Hotline. I’m confident that by working together we’ll see the end of this drought when the rains come, which isn’t going to get here soon enough. A prayer or two definitely couldn’t hurt,” said Barham