Do your laundry. Take a little longer shower. Put away the paper plates.
Lincoln’s mandatory water regulations are no longer necessary, Mayor Chris Beutler announced late Wednesday afternoon.
Instead, the city is asking residents and businesses to follow voluntary restrictions, and try to reduce their normal water usage by about 25 percent.
Commercial car washes will open at 8 a.m. Thursday, and restaurants can return to using their regular dishes and utensils.
But Beutler asked residents to hold off on watering their lawns and restaurants to continue to provide water only on request.
“Challenges remain,” the mayor said. “Don’t lose that conservation spirit. It may be necessary if the summer turns dry.”
For several days the city was getting water from only one Platte River wellfield because of flooding near Ashland.
Power was restored to a second wellfield, the city's north wellfield, on Wednesday, and water production increased from about 32 million gallons a day to 40 million gallons, enough to cover Lincoln’s normal water usage.
Lincoln uses between 30 to 35 million gallons of water a day during the winter months.
The city is also close to restoring power to a large horizontal well on the east side of the river than can produce 20 million to 25 million gallons a day, Beutler said.
“This is definitely a good news day,” he said.
The afternoon news conference was delayed for almost an hour while Beutler and Lincoln Transportation and Utility leaders got the latest information from the Ashland water plant and decided they could end the mandatory water restrictions that called for residents to reduce their water usage by 50 percent and businesses by 25 percent.
Beutler, who has been involved in water issues as a state senator and as mayor, said this weekend’s emergency will stay with him even long after leaving office this spring. At one point Sunday afternoon, staff feared the city might only have enough water for two days.
“We can never take water for granted,” Beutler said.
He said he's been impressed with the way Lincoln residents reacted to the challenge. As mayor for 12 years, Beutler said he has "never been more proud of this city."
City officials hope to have rough estimates of the cost of damage and restoration efforts by the end of the week.
By Wednesday afternoon, floodwaters had receded to a level where staff can see the city's wells, the valves and water mains, said Miki Esposito, Lincoln Transportation and Utilities director.
Staff also made progress Wednesday rebuilding a road to the horizontal well on the east side of the river. That included sandbagging a levee and adding rock to the road.
Earlier, Chinook helicopters flying along the Platte dropped sand and aggregate materials at access points to Lincoln's wellfields in the ongoing effort to restore full water production, an emergency official said.
Brad Thavenet of Lincoln Fire and Rescue said engineers and crews on the ground were using the aggregate material to shore up roads damaged by the flooding.
The U.S. 6 bridge over the Platte was closed as helicopters gathered materials from northeast of the span.
"We need to make sure we have power to the field and an accessible road," Thavenet told reporters at the city’s Emergency Operations Center in southwest Lincoln.
Some of the flooding eroded ground near wellfields and took out power poles.
Photos, videos from flood-ravaged areas
Nebraska City aerial
Operation Prairie Hay Drop photos
The #NEGuard has been supporting the ongoing response in Eastern Nebraska following massive flooding on the state’s river systems which began a week ago and caused catastrophic damage to the state’s infrastructure and agriculture.— NE National Guard (@NENationalGuard) March 21, 2019
(3/3)#NebraskaFlood #NebraskaStrong pic.twitter.com/N4zQ2zu2Zx
Missouri River at Nebraska 2/I-29
View of the Platte/Missouri
Edge of Offutt
North Bend ovation
Pence with rescuers
Americans like Brad Brown & his airboat co-pilot Jake Rohr are the heart of the heartland. Brad & Jake have been helping victims of the flooding & delivering much needed supplies. Grateful for their service & ALL the volunteers & emergency personnel helping Nebraskans in need! pic.twitter.com/l2PxhwX6a4— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 20, 2019
Lincoln help for Santee Sioux
Buying out the bleach
Help from North Platte
@GitRDoneLarry— Chandra Laine (@ChandraLaine) March 20, 2019
We are a group of volunteers gathering donations in North Platte Ne . We sent one semi to Fremont. We have two more semi trailers almost full.Get our 4th semi on Thursday. To the people, Your battle is our battle. We stand with you. We got you! ❤ #NebraskaStrong pic.twitter.com/wsDRTr0Tr9
Help for farmers
Thanks to generious donations to the Disaster Relief Fund, we were able to deliver supplies to farmers along the Niobrara River. We brought them milk replacement for calves and medicine. Help us do more good by donating to the fund: https://t.co/sFi40cxnwG #nebraskastrong pic.twitter.com/dAGUYDKFpo— Nebraska Farm Bureau (@NEFarmBureau) March 20, 2019
Niobrara ice chunks
Sandbagging at Cooper
Pence in Nebraska
Visited the relief shelter at Elkhorn Middle School today to let the Nebraska flood victims know @POTUS and I are WITH them & to thank the incredible military personnel & @RedCross volunteers helping those impacted. THANK YOU! pic.twitter.com/ZA6X7qfeSi— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) March 20, 2019
I-680 Mormon bridge
Sasse surveying damage
Latest from NEMA
Repairing the roads
Beer fridge was stocked!
For those of you that don't know, our state of #Nebraska is going through record flooding. Sometimes though, the world sends you a break. These guys went to their #DuckCamp and found a fully-stocked #BeerFridge. #NebraskaStrong #Flood2019 pic.twitter.com/t8FvdqVQ3g— Fat Boy Wild Game (@gameseasonings) March 19, 2019
Flying in supplies
The Nebraska flooding is so heartbreaking but the whole state has stepped up to help. I can’t be more proud of my brother for flying his plane to Fremont with baby supplies to help. Proud to be from Nebraska #NebraskaFlood #NebraskaStrong @GMA pic.twitter.com/vFZVDj6lm6— Michelle Galles (@WakefieldFCCLA) March 19, 2019
Offutt before and after
I joined the Fremont National Guard in Nebraska today to get an aerial view of flooding impact as we traveled to thank volunteers in Fremont, NE, address a community meeting in Niobrara, and receive a briefing in Lynch.#NebraskaFlood | #NebraskaStrong | #FremontStrong pic.twitter.com/piEXa7TpIq— Scott (@FirstMinScott) March 19, 2019