Benjamin Parker / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Fall Creek, Cornell's main water supply, is at a record low after a prolonged period without rainfall.

September 22, 2020

Cornell, Ithaca Issue Limited Water Use Advisory, Encourage Conservation

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After a “prolonged period” without rain and an “abnormally dry state,” Cornell and the City of Ithaca have issued a Level 1: Limited Water Use Advisory to encourage water conservation.

The city called the conditions a “moderate drought,” pointing to flow in Six Mile Creek, the city’s water source. For the past two months, flow has decreased: Normally, flow at this time of year is 10 to 15 cubic feet per second, but currently it is approximately 5 cubic feet per second.

A flow rate below 4 cubic feet per second is considered “critical” because the city will begin to draw more water than the creek can supply, therefore drawing down the reservoir level.

Similarly, Cornell’s water supply, Fall Creek, is at a record low level.

There is no rain forecasted for the next seven days, according to a Swift911 alert from the city. And if conditions persist, the city and Cornell could issue a Level 2: Water Use Restrictions warning, but limiting the use of water to essential needs only should ease the demands on the water systems.

But the University and the city maintain that health and safety are still a priority and that people should continue to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On campus, residents should report all water leakages, including running toilets and leaking faucets, as soon as possible to conserve water.

Other suggestions include limiting or ceasing non-essential uses of potable water, like watering lawns, washing vehicles and letting faucets run unattended. Residents can also wait until having a full load before running washing machines or dishwashers.