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Lincoln residents and businesses reduced their water consumption by 3 million gallons during the first day of mandatory water restrictions, Mayor Chris Beutler said during a news conference Tuesday.

“We are very close to meeting our water consumption goals," Beutler said as he thanked residents for their efforts and sacrifice.

The mandatory water conservation restrictions remain in place while the city waits to get electricity restored to wellfields along the flood-ravaged Platte River near Ashland.

“Hopefully these issues can be resolved soon, but there are no guarantees,” Beutler said. City staff have been hesitant to say how long the mandatory water use restrictions will be in place.

The city is now limiting construction in the city right of way, where water lines are generally located, to avoid the risk of breaking a water main, Beutler said.

That will have some impact on construction projects, both private and public, he said.

Most of the city wells are still inaccessible because of the flooding, making repairs difficult, Beutler said.

Just one wellfield is able to pump water to the Ashland treatment plants, where water pulled from an aquifer under the Platte is treated before being sent to Lincoln.

The quality of city water is good. The problem is with the quantity. The wellfield that is up and running is not producing enough to meet normal winter water demand and keep city backup reservoirs full.

The city has said Lincoln homes and businesses generally use 30 million to 35 million gallons of water a day in the winter.

Beutler said he and his wife ate at Lazlo’s on Monday night, “and we had a wonderful meal served on paper plates.”

The city is requiring restaurants and institutions to use paper plates, cups and disposable utensils during the water crisis in order to save water on dishwashing.

Commercial car washes are closed, Beutler said, and he thanked the owners and staff of these businesses who aren’t working or making money right now.

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The city is also suggesting businesses turn off their automatic toilet flushing. 

Beutler asked residents to let their neighbors know about the water restrictions first before calling police. He said it's a strain on law enforcement to ask them to answer calls on water restrictions.

Lincoln residents could handle this “the Lincoln way — calmly and nicely asking people to pitch in and help out.”

Residents are being asked to reduce water consumption by 50 percent and businesses by 25 percent.

Suggestions for reducing water use in homes include the following: Minimizing toilet flushing, reducing showers and time spent in the shower, postponing laundry and washing dishes, using paper plates and cups, cooking foods that need little water, using bottled water and disabling the automatic ice maker.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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