Yamhill adds more water usage restrictions in, out of city

Civic Affairs

Water levels in Turner Creek are falling significantly

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Jason Austin and his wife Paula say their lawn and landscaping has taken a big hit, along with their daily routines, as they work to conserve water under the city’s new restrictions.

“We spent around $1000 on this landscaping and it’s all dying,” Paula said.

“Can’t bathe as often, and even if you want to cool off, you can’t take a shower in this heat wave,” Jason said. “Laundry, our laundry piles up.”

Now, with more hot, dry weather on the way, the City of Yamhill is imposing even more restrictions on water usage inside and outside the city limits. In a meeting Wednesday night, city leaders also made a request for support from the county to make an emergency declaration.

The water in Yamhill comes from Turner Creek, where the water level has dropped significantly. The city is moving to Level 3 at midnight Wednesday — that means residents can’t water their lawns or fill a swimming pool, and they’re extending those same rules to those using city water outside the city limits.

Turner Creek in Menefee County Park in Yamhill County, undated (Wikimedia Commons)

“We were using around 400,000 gallons a day, and now, I’d say we cut it back 25% to 30%,” said Yamhill City Water Plant Operator Kyle Adams. “We are using over 100,000 gallons a day less, so I think it’s been pretty positive.”

Adams said what everyone did under Level 2 restrictions really helped.

“Since the Level 2, the water usage is coming down,” he said.

While residents have been conserving, Adams said Turner Creek levels are still falling — with more hot weather in the forecast.

Fire Chief Brian Jensen explained to city leaders that Yamhill also provides water to 10 districts outside the city.

“Almost half of our water goes to outside water districts. There are almost 169 meters on the outside. Not all of the water goes to the city,” Jensen said. “It goes to others.”

City leaders heard that and made a decision. They extended restrictions to districts outside the city limits as well.

“I know we talked about it,” Council President Kay Echauri said. “I think it’s time to act on it.”

After talking with Yamhill County Emergency Manager Brian Young, the Yamhill City Council also voted to move forward with an emergency declaration in order to improve access to resources in the future.

“If it’s a motion, it might include a request to the county commissioners to second the declaration and forward it on to the governor for gubernatorial action,” Walt Cowell said. Echauri moved the motion.

City Hall Administrative Clerk Sharon Bregante-Candau read back “a motion to move to Level 3, impose the same water restrictions on everyone, outside and inside users, and a request for a state of emergency and support from the county.”

Jason and Paula Austin of Yamhill are among those affected by water restrictions in the city, August 11, 2021 (KOIN)

“The weird thing is,” Paula Austin said, is they have received “no notices. How are they informing everybody?”

Jason said even though he and his neighbors have been conserving water, he said he’s still feeling the pinch in his wallet — about $120 a month. He feels if they’re using less water his monthly bill should drop.

“I understand the city can’t work on Mother Nature with our drought and everything. But when they start asking us to do water restrictions but they still charge us the same water bill, I think that is pretty terrible,” Jason said.

City leaders said if the creek gets too low they may have to shuttle water in. They’re working on a plant to do that if things get worse.

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