Bemidji Council to consider water restrictions to limit impact of drought

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has designated the state as being in a drought warning phase. As a result, water providers like the city of Bemidji are being asked to place restrictions on water usage. A proposed restriction for non-essential use is on the Bemidji City Council's agenda for Monday.

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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji City Council may add restrictions to water usage in the municipality based on drought conditions.

On Friday, the city received a letter attached from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which has designated the state as being in a drought warning phase. When the phase is in place by the DNR, actions must be taken by water suppliers for a population of over 1,000 to reduce usage.

To meet state specifications, city staff is recommending the Council make an attempt to reduce water usage by about 400,000 gallons per day. The way to meet the goal is to restrict non-essential water use in the city at all times.

Non-essential water use includes lawn sprinkling, vehicle washing, golf courses and activities at parks and recreation areas.

The city currently has an odd-day ban on non-essential water usage. Should the Council put the ban at an all-time basis, exemptions would include buildings and development projects required to have vegetation by city ordinances and permitting.


Another consideration for the city on Monday is a request for more diagonal parking in the downtown area. Both the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce and Bemidji Downtown Alliance are requesting the city add more parking spaces on Minnesota Avenue between Second and Sixth Street.

An option for the city is to remove existing parallel parking on one side and replace it with diagonal parking, which would add 15 spaces on Minnesota Avenue. The avenue is wide enough and should the Council approve the request, the change would take three to four weeks.

Other business on Monday's agenda includes:

  • Creating a task force with Northern Township representation to discuss the feasibility of extending municipal utilities north as part of a request from Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge.
  • A final reading on an amendment to the city's firearms, bows and hunting ordinance to allow rural residents with larger properties to hunt.
  • The first reading of an ordinance establishing a Police Advisory Board.
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