Those working toward a green lawn this summer in Mitchell may have to work a little harder to accomplish their goals for the time being.

The city of Mitchell has imposed watering restrictions throughout the community in an effort to conserve water as dry conditions continue to be the norm in 2021. And while the restrictions may be an inconvenience to residents trying their best to maintain their greenery, community members are sticking to the program, said Jon Vermeulen, with the city public works department.

In fact, they're sticking with it so well that the city is holding off in enforcing the restrictions with penalties for the time being, he said.

“We’re not enforcing it right now. We haven’t gotten to the point where we have to enforce it,” Vermeulen said. “The majority of people are complying and have been really good, and they call and ask questions. So far it’s worked really well.”

The water restrictions are based on time of day and house numbers. Houses with an address that ends in an even number may water on even numbered days, and houses with an address that ends with an odd number may water on odd numbered days. No watering is allowed during the day between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

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The restrictions are in place until further notice.

Vermeulen said the restrictions were put in place after BY Water said implementing such restrictions would be helpful in conserving water. Vermeulen said that the city has a good supply of water available, however.

“(The restrictions) were due to concerns from BY Water, and they asked us to help out,” Vermeulen said.

The city itself is following the same restrictions, Vermeulen said. He noted that some areas of town, such as Cadwell Park, the cemetery, golf course, soccer complex and the area near Mitchell Middle School, water on different days because they have access to Lake Mitchell as a water source.

The city of Mitchell is not currently actively enforcing the restrictions. Vermeulen said if a complaint is made that someone is not following the watering schedule, his office will make a call to the party in question and remind them of the restrictions. He said that so far the vast majority of the community is understanding and cooperative.

It’s already been a dry year. According to the United States Drought Monitor, Davison County is 1.42 inches below average rainfall for the month of June, which usually sees 4.3 inches of rainfall. Farmers have been eyeing the skies for weeks hoping for some substantial relief from the dry conditions, and now it appears those who love a well-manicured lawn will have to do the same.

The city has included instructions and tips on watering lawns with the restrictions in place. Those tips include:

  • Water early in the morning. Morning is the best time to water for all plants. Avoid watering during the afternoon, which is the hottest period of the day and when evaporation is the greatest.

  • Water only when the lawn needs it. If you step on the grass and it springs back, it does not need watering. An established lawn needs only one inch of water per week.

  • Deep-soak your lawn. When you do water, do it long enough for moisture to soak to the roots where it will be most beneficial. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly and tends to encourage a shallow root system.

  • Position your sprinklers so the water lands on the lawn or garden, not on paved areas.

  • Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Add mulch around them to slow evaporation of moisture and discourage weed growth.

The solution to the watering restrictions is simple, Vermeulen said. We need more rain, though there is no set timeline on lifting the restrictions.

“If we could take half the water we had from 2019, we would be sitting in good shape,” Vermeulen said. “If we get some rainfall and BY feels that they’re in good shape, we will lift the restrictions.”

Vermeulen encouraged anyone with questions about watering to contact the city public works department at 605-995-8433.

Freeman, Parkston also impose restrictions

In addition to Mitchell, the communities of Freeman and Parkston have implemented watering restrictions.

Freeman does not allow watering between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Parkston allows residents whose houses end in an even number to water on even numbered days, and residents whose houses end in an odd number to water on odd numbered days.