HEPPNER - City officials in Heppner are worried that continued high temperatures could deplete the city's water supply faster than it can be restored.

In the last few days, the water level in the city's reservoir dropped nearly in half, from 24 feet to 13.

Heppner City Manager Gay Breazeale said it is primarily because people are using water to water lawns or large areas.

"We have only recently been experiencing difficulty keeping the main water reservoir full," Breazeale said.

The reservoir is fed from three wells around the city, but those wells have not been able to keep up with the rapid drain.

If the water level drops much farther, the rural fire department could have trouble filling tanks from city hydrants, Breazeale said. Fire Chief Rusty Estes said fire engines are equipped with thousands of gallons of water at all times and trucks could drain water from any standing water source in an emergency.

"I didn't panic when I heard about it," Estes said. "We're pretty well prepared."

This is not the first time this year the water level has dipped down below average, but it is the first time the city has asked people to cut back on water use until the reservoir can be pumped back to full capacity.

"Obviously it's a concern to us, it's a big concern," Breazeale said.

Flyers were mailed out urging residents to restrict water use and the city called some major users, like the cemetery district and school district, he added.

While the reservoir is low, homeowners are encouraged to not water their lawns , wash their cars, or do anything else that uses more water than absolutely necessary.

While it's expected to be warm again today, showers and cooler weather forecast Sunday and early next week could ease the situation.

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