AMES, Iowa — Ames officials implored residents Friday to do a better job of conserving water after historic flooding caused pipes to break and left the college town of 55,000 without drinking water.
John Dunn, the water and pollution control director in the central Iowa city, said people must adopt "temporary lifestyle changes."
"Water used for any purpose other than essential health and sanitation purposes is hampering our community-wide recovery and extending the amount of time until water is available for drinking," Dunn said. "The use of water for nonessential purposes must stop."
The city was forced to shut down its water system Wednesday after the broken water mains were discovered as a creek and river flooded large swaths of the city about 30 miles north of Des Moines.
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By Thursday, residents were allowed to use small amounts of water for showering or flushing toilets, but a boil order remained in effect as officials warned the water may have been contaminated after water towers were drained and pressure dropped. Crews had repaired or isolated the broken water mains and began filling one of the water towers, but it was quickly depleted by usage.
Jean McBreen said she was using only bottled water at home and taking short showers.
"In fact we save water from the showers so if I need to wash some clothes I can do that," said McBreen, who is also the general manager of the Gateway Hotel in Ames.
At the hotel, they took water from the swimming pool to guests' rooms so they could flush toilets.
"I'm hoping the entire town does pull together and conserve because if they have to turn the water off again it's going to be ten times worse," McBreen said. "I just don't think people are taking this seriously enough."
City spokeswoman Susan Gwiasda said all use of water for gardening, lawn care and car washing is prohibited.
Anyone using water for nonessential purposes could be fined, she said.