Augusta residents have faced strict water conservation measures since July 12, 2011.
The Augusta City Council wanted to remove all restrictions Monday night, but a few factors still caused concerns so the governing body merely softened the restrictions.
Instead of having a few hours a day, two days a week, the new rules will allow Augusta residents to use water outdoors anytime, every day except for Wednesday and Sunday.
The council heard from Water Department Director Russell Still who asked the council not to remove all restrictions until the city was certain that it could provide and treat enough water to supply the city's needs.
"I thinks we need to take small bites, not big bites," Still said.
The city hasn't been using water from the City Lake in order to allow the lake to refill. Fortunately the cool dry summer, combined with the water restrictions have meant that the city and its water customers haven't used more than 2.5 million gallons a day all year.
For most of the year, the city was able to supplement the demand with water from Santa Fe Lake to meet the demand. But during the last rain event, water in the Whitewater River rose so high that it broke the water line. Due to the condition of the line at the location and where the break is, the cost to repair it is estimated to be almost $250,000. That would allow the city to drill a new line under the Whitewater to bring water from Santa Fe Lake to the water treatment plant.
There is little doubt that the city will be able to provide all of the water needed with the El Dorado Lake line and the water in the almost completely full city lake.
However, if there is a break in either of those systems, restrictions would have to be reinstated.
"We can always change them," Mayor Kristey Williams said. " If something happens, we can act then."
Beginning immediately, businesses and residents can water lawns, wash cars and use water for any other reason at any time of day, every day except for Wednesday and Sunday. Those two days allow the water treatment plant to catch up in case the demand is higher than expected.