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Bozeman considering water conservation regulations

The city of Bozeman is considering restrictions on lawn watering as one way to conserve water.
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The city of Bozeman is considering restrictions on lawn watering as one way to conserve water.

As Bozeman’s rapid growth and the ongoing drought put more pressure on the city’s limited water supply, local officials are looking at more ways to conserve water.

Bozeman Water Manager Jessica Ahlstrom shared a presentation with the commission Tuesday that recommended regulations to address rising outdoor water use.

“If the city grows at 4 percent per year and if everyone in the city continues to use the amount of water that they are right now we can expect our city-wide demand for water to exceed supply in 2033,” she said.

Ahlstrom is proposing that new home developers use more efficient irrigation systems and plant less turf grass. She also wants to see outdoor lawn watering for all residents limited to 3 days a week.

The commission unanimously agreed that future regulations are needed.

Commissioner Jennifer Madgic stressed that 2033 is not far away.

“I think we need to start implementing strict measures, start getting in the habit of taking water conservation seriously,” she said.

Bozeman’s water supply relies heavily on snowpack. The three main sources are Hyalite Reservoir, Sourdough Creek and Lyman Spring.

The commission did not formally adopt any changes at the meeting. City staff will present more details on the proposed conservation measures later this year.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.