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Aurora concerned over aquifer's low level

City imposes water use limitations for citizens


The city of Aurora has declared an emergency water shortage and banned outdoor water use.

All outdoor water use is prohibited. Plans to pressure wash the house or wash the car had to be put on hold.

Residents failing to comply will face having their service turned off and fines of $25 to $500 per day of violation.

The only exemption would be for someone who had put in a major landscaping project in the last 30 days.

“We don’t want them to lose their investment,” Mayor Gregory M. Taylor said.

The city declared the emergency Aug. 7 until midnight Aug. 9. The emergency was lifted during the community’s Colony Days weekend celebration and resumed Monday, Aug. 12, until further notice.

The city wells had dropped to dangerously low levels, threatening to burn out the pumps, said Taylor.

“We wanted 48 hours to see if the aquifer would rise back to a safe level,” he said. “We’re monitoring it 24 hours. We’re going to wait and see how we are Friday night or Saturday morning.”

Taylor said this was the first time in the 43 years he has lived in Aurora that things had gotten this bad.

Aurora’s water comes from the Mount Hood-Troutdale aquifer that serves many communities.

“We’re at the very end,” Taylor said. “A lot of water has disappeared before it gets to us.”

The aquifer levels go down more quickly and take longer to recover than they used to.

The city has shut down all city water use except for bathrooms. And those were shut down over the weekend.

Dealing with the water shortage was a subject at the Aug. 13 city council meeting.

The city has tried voluntary conservation over the years with mild success, Taylor said. This year, it did not do so well.

One option might be making conservation mandatory May through October in the future, he said.

Another option might be capping water use and charge residents a hefty fee for exceeding it.