Bozeman residents will be restricted from watering their lawns during most days of the week and during most times of the day under a new ordinance city commissioners approved this week.
The ordinance commissioners gave final approval to during their meeting Tuesday prohibits outdoor lawn watering between the hours of 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. and restricts watering to three days a week, based on home addresses.
The ordinance mirrors watering restrictions that the city put into place last summer due to drought conditions. Those restrictions went into place in July and brought about an over 20% drop in water use.
The newly passed ordinance will make those restrictions permanent starting on June 16 — under city code, ordinances go into effect 30 days after the final vote.
The days watering is permitted will be based on odd and even addresses and will apply to every property hooked up to the city’s water system.
Even-numbered homes will be permitted to water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and odd-numbered homes will be allowed to water on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Public parks, private open spaces and street right of ways will be permitted to water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
During an initial vote on the ordinance earlier this month, city commissioners approved an amendment that would have restricted watering to just the hours of midnight to 10 a.m.
Commissioner Christopher Coburn said at Tuesday’s meeting that after hearing public comment — and considering the inconvenience of having to get up before work to water your lawn — he believes adding back in the hours of 8 p.m. to midnight is appropriate.
Coburn’s amendment Tuesday night means that on allowable watering days, people can water their lawns between midnight and 10 a.m., then again from 8 p.m. to midnight.
“I think that makes more sense and I do really appreciate the public commenting and telling us the reasons why they want to have that time at night to water,” Coburn said.
There are some exceptions built into the ordinance. Trees and other plants besides turf grass can be watered with a hose or watering can outside of the restricted days, and newly installed sod can be watered outside of the restrictions for the first 45 days.
The ordinance also gives the city manager the authority to enact additional watering restrictions in case of a drought, like prohibiting washing your car at home or entirely prohibiting the installation of new landscaping during a drought.
Commissioners have been supportive of the watering restrictions.
“This is a step in the right direction, and I think that we will continue to keep our eye on the ball when it comes to water conservation,” Mayor Cyndy Andrus said.