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Oswego mayor urges 'immediate' water conservation, water levels critically low

Jason Smith
Lawns all over central and northern New York are brown due to the lack of rain this summer

Oswego's mayor is asking city residents to conserve water, saying the city's water supply is at critically low levels. 

Mayor Billy Barlow says because of the severe drought, the city's ground water storage tank is at a critically low level, and "continues to be depleted at a rate that could cause a significant health hazard if water conservation measures aren't taken." 

Barlow says city residents are using about a million gallons of water each day, and that's more than the city can treat as it's pulled in from Lake Ontario. 

Barlow is asking anyone who uses the city's water supply, which includes city residents and residents of the towns of Scriba and New Haven, to decrease their use of water as much as possible for the next several weeks. 

"We're holding off on watering our own lawns, we put a stop to fire hydrant testing, and just making sure on our end that we're being as conservative as we can," said Barlow. "But the water plant is at max power and pretty much has been all summer."

Barlow is asking residents to put off watering lawns, washing cars, and filling pools until after Labor Day. 

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has placed Oswego County, along with much of central and western New York, under a drought warning. According to the National Weather Service, parts of Oswego County received less than a half-inch of rain in July. 

The city of Ithaca has also asked residents to conserve water. Officials there say water in its reservoir is also at a dangerously low level. 

Jason has served as WRVO's news director in some capacity since August 2017. As news director, Jason produces hourly newscasts, and helps direct local news coverage and special programming. Before that, Jason hosted Morning Edition on WRVO from 2009-2019. Jason came to WRVO in January of 2008 as a producer/reporter. Before that, he spent two years as an anchor/reporter at WSYR Radio in Syracuse.
Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.