Stage 4 water restrictions became effective this month in Rule.
According to City Councilman Bob Clark, the city gets its water supply from the Miller Creek Reservoir. He said the reservoir is only 23 percent full – and residents can only use up to 5,000 gallons of water each month and cannot water outdoors.
The city was allotted approximately 1.2 million gallons of water in June and will only be allotted about 900,000 gallons in August.
Clark said he fears residents will be forced to move if the water situation continues to worsen.
“In the 1970s and 1930s, the droughts were so bad and the water levels were so bad people had to leave and that's what we're up against,” Clark said. “Even though we received rains in the month of June, we have not broken the drought. We’re short of water for drinking and use and we have to do everything we can to conserve.”
Clark said this summer is the worst he has seen.
“From people I've talked [to], the older fellers think that this drought is worse than the 1950s and I know it was pretty bad then because we lost a lot of our underground water on this drought that we didn't lose in the 50s,” Clark said.
Residents of larger households think 5,000 gallons of water a month is not enough.
“There's too many of us in these small towns and a lot of elderly and without water,” Sharon Hollabaugh said. “They don't have options to move like other people do, so you know just conserve is all I can say and help us because if not we're going to run out of water.”
Residents who have well water on their properties do not have to abide by the Stage 4 restrictions; however, Clark said well water is often full of nitrates which can be dangerous.
“They say that nitrates harm unborn babies, small children, elderly people and especially people with asthma because the nitrates rob the oxygen from the blood,” Clark said.
Clark said there are several ways people can conserve water.
“You can reset the floats on your toilet bowls so you're only using about two gallons to flush instead of three,” Clark said. “You can get water restricting devices to put on the nozzles of your sinks and lavatories and shower heads and take shorter showers. When you wash, use a full load of clothes.”
The city of Haskell is under stage three water restrictions and residents have a 10,000 gallon monthly limit and can only water their lawns once a week.