The city of Ashland has asked residents to voluntarily curtail their use of water as water levels drop in Reeder Reservoir.

The city of Ashland has asked residents to voluntarily curtail their use of water as water levels drop in Reeder Reservoir.

The amount of water flowing into the reservoir from Ashland Creek is not keeping up with the amount that is being used, city officials said. Ashlanders are using an average of 6.7 million gallons of water per day. The city of Ashland is also required to release a million gallons of water into Ashland Creek daily, according to officials.

While 7.7 million gallons of water are being taken out of Reeder Reservoir, only about four million gallons are flowing into the reservoir above Lithia Park that stores the community's water, officials said.

The city of Ashland's goal with the voluntary water curtailment is to have the community cut water use by 20 percent or 6.4 million gallons, to make sure that there is enough water to last until temperatures cool and autumn rains begin, officials said.

Officials announced the voluntary water curtailment on Tuesday afternoon.

"Historically, Ashland residents and businesses have responded quickly to the city's request to voluntarily restrict the use of water and we're confident they will do so again," Ashland Public Works Director Mike Faught said. "If we do not get rain and we continue to use water at the current rate, it is possible that in the near future the city will implement the Water Curtailment Ordinance, which limits the amount of water that can be used."

People with questions about the voluntary water curtailment notice can contact the Ashland Public Works Water Division at 488-5353.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to follow the conservation tips listed below and to be mindful of the use of water.

Don't brush your teeth with the water running. Don't water outside plants between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Don't allow water to run off onto streets, sidewalks, driveways and adjacent property for more than five minutes. Don't use water to wash sidewalks, walkways and other hard surfaces except where necessary for public health or safety. Don't allow water to escape from breaks within plumbing systems. Don't use water to wash cars, boats, trailers, aircraft or other vehicles by hose without a shut-off nozzle. Don't serve drinking water in restaurants, hotels, cafés or other public places unless requested by the customer. Don't use water to clean, fill or maintain decorative fountains or ponds unless the water is recirculated. Don't use water for dust control or to wash buildings.

Ashland had a voluntary water curtailment in the spring of this year — an unusual season to have a curtailment.

The city was having trouble treating extremely cold water, Ashland Assistant Engineer Pieter Smeenk said.

In August 2001, the city instituted a voluntary water curtailment and that was changed to a mandatory curtailment soon after, he said.

"We did see a significant drop in water usage within a week or two," Smeenk said.

Information on city of Ashland water conservation programs and water saving tips is available at www.ashland.or.us.

The city government has already taken steps to cut its water use. The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, which manages parks and the grounds for Ashland Community Hospital and the Ashland School District, adjusted its irrigation on Tuesday morning to scale back water use by 20 percent, Smeenk said.

If put into effect, the city's mandatory water curtailment provisions include four stages, with each stage placing greater restrictions on the amount of water allowed per water meter. If a household or business uses more than the allotted amount, the charge for the extra water is four times the normal amount, according to the city of Ashland's Web site.

Voluntary water curtailment is fairly common in Ashland during the summers, while mandatory water curtailment is more rare.