WILLISTON (AP) - Officials in the Williston area are implementing mandatory water restrictions due to reduced capacity at the water treatment plant in the city.
The problem is due to recent heavy rainfall in eastern Montana and western North Dakota that has stirred up sediment in the Missouri River, from which the plant draws water.
Industrial water usage has been cut off at public depots run by the Western Area Water Supply Authority. Businesses and residents of Williston, the smaller outlying communities of Watford City and Trenton, and two rural water districts are being told to restrict water use to essential uses only. That means they can't water lawns or wash vehicles and also should implement voluntary water conservation measures such as flushing toilets less often and cutting back on washing clothes and dishes.
Officials don't know how long it will take for water plant capacity to return to normal, but residents should prepare for 1-2 weeks of restrictions, Mayor Ward Koeser said.
"This is an unprecedented event for this city," Water Commissioner Brent Bogar told the Williston Herald.
The restrictions affect about 40,000 permanent and temporary residents of the area in the western North Dakota oil patch, Daron Selvig, a spokesman for Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services Inc., a consultant firm for Williston, told The Bismarck Tribune.
People who violate the restrictions could be subject to a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum punishment of 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Police Chief Jim Lokken told the Herald he does not anticipate problems.