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Drought Management

In response to lower than average snow levels in the Upper Yellowstone River area, the City Manager and staff presented a draft of the City’s water restriction plan at the May 7th City Commission meeting. While there is no immediate concern about the City’s ability to provide enough clean drinking water, the City team wants to take a proactive approach in educating the community on steps that may become necessary.


In the event of a severe drought or emergency, the City of Livingston has adopted the following drought stages for 2024 and beyond.


Drought Stages:

• Stage 1: Voluntary restrictions with education on water conservation.

Stage 2: Citywide irrigation ban from 4 am to 9 am to allow time for reservoirs to refill.

• Stage 3: Watering of lawns is permitted for even-numbered addresses on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 8 pm to 4 am. For odd-numbered addresses, watering is allowed on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday during the same hours. Public parks may be watered on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

• Stage 4: All outdoor water use is prohibited.


Stage Triggers

Stage 1: Stage is triggered when average daily demand exceeds the well pumping capacity.

Stage 2: Stage is triggered when water levels are below 80% in both reservoirs.

Stage 3: Stage is triggered when water is below 70% in both reservoirs.

Stage 4: Stage is triggered if the city suffers an equipment/infrastructure failure, a fire emergency, or if water is below 60% in both reservoirs.

Conservation Tips

Outdoor Watering

Small landscaping and habit changes can save a lot of water which reduces demand and can save money.


Tips for Reducing Outdoor Water Use


• Wait to water lawns. Don’t turn on sprinklers too early in the season. Leaving lawns dormant longer will save water, and will not compromise the longevity of your lawn. April is too early to go automatic, plan on programming your sprinkler system to start in May or June. Hand-water trees and plants as needed. Trees offer many benefits such as shade and habitat, and are often greatly impacted by drought, make sure to keep an eye out on your tree health and water them when needed.


• Water less frequently. Watering twice a week will make grass roots grow deeper and allow the grass to last longer without water.


• Cycle sprinkler system run times. This can prevent excess water runoff, visual inspections after an initial watering cycle will make this apparent. Instead of setting each zone to water for 15 minutes, set each zone to water for five minutes, every hour, for a few hours, and adjust accordingly.


• Water in the evening, night, or early morning. Watering landscapes in the early morning or at night will help reduce water loss. During the daytime heat, less water will be available to plants due to loss from evaporation and wind.


• When it rains, water accordingly - Watch the weather and adjust watering days and times accordingly. Use soil moisture sensors to automatically adjust watering schedules when it rains. As a less accurate option, use rain sensors to stop sprinklers when it rains.


• Let grass grow longer before cutting it. Raise lawn mower blades and protect lawns from the heat by letting the grass grow longer (3 to 3.5 inches.) A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture, so your lawn requires less water.


• Water lawns, plants, and trees—not roads and sidewalks. Prior to installing a costly chase drain or other solution, request an irrigation audit. In our arid environment, there should be no need to divert irrigation water. Sweep driveways and sidewalks with a broom instead of spraying with a hose - but please not down the storm drain or into the street gutter. Hand-water, deep root water, or drip irrigate trees, shrubs, bushes, perennial beds, annual flowers, and vegetable gardens. Always use a shut-off nozzle on your hose when watering plants.


• Fix any leaks. Check your sprinkler system monthly for broken sprinkler heads and damaged irrigation lines. Hire a professional to conduct a sprinkler assessment. A well-maintained system will save both money and water.


• Plan ahead and plan efficiently. If possible, delay new lawn installations for a non-drought year (even water-wise gardens require more water to get established) and avoid planting during the mid-summer heat. Incorporate water-wise plants and turf when planning landscape renovations or installations.


More information on the Drought Management Plan and lawn watering tips is available on our website, LivingstonMontana.org.

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