DECATUR — Commercial car washes and detailing facilities using city water are free to re-open for business as city leaders lifted Stage 2 water restrictions Thursday.

Lake Decatur levels measured 612.01 feet above sea level, which is within the normal winter water level of 612 to 613 feet above sea level. Stage 1 water restrictions remain in place, but City Manager Ryan McCrady said they would be lifted if the lake reaches 613 feet above sea level.

City leaders estimate that could happen in as soon as a week.

McCrady said the Sangamon River, which city officials have monitored throughout the drought, is flowing at a rate of 400 cubic feet per second, as compared to some points during the summer where there was no flow.

City officials enacted the first water restrictions July 25, with the more severe restrictions following on Aug. 9.

With the second stage of restrictions lifted, commercial car washes and detailing facilities can re-open using the city’s water. Some of those businesses stayed open during the restrictions by trucking water in from other locations, but they did so at a higher cost than using city water.

Residents will be allowed to water lawns, golf courses and athletic fields will once again be allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The Decatur Bulk Water Station will reopen, but will sell water at 150 percent of the regular cost.

McCrady said the good news would not halt work toward additional water supplies that city staff members had feverishly pursued during the summer months.

“We’re glad that the lake level is rising but it’s not going to slow us down on our pursuit for a permanent water source,” McCrady said. “We don’t want the citizens to think that now we put all the stuff we’ve done on a shelf and we’re going to leave it there for four or five more years.”

This story will be updated.

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