In October of 2023, when the Osceola Water Board of Trustees increased the water conservation Ordinance to Section 3 – Water Emergency, many questions were asked about residential conservation and what the ordinance meant to users across the community. Others who own and manage businesses throughout Osceola saw an even bigger challenge to the change: what concessions and changes can they make in their day-to-day businesses practices to help with the conservation efforts?industrial and commercial water users in osceola iowa

According to the October Osceola Water Works’ resolution #2023-27, “…base water allocation restrictions for Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional use shall be restricted to a decrease in water usage of 3% – 10% per billing period.”

“For a lot of our commercial and industrial water customers the request to cut water use by three to ten percent meant significant changes to their overall operations,” said Brandon Patterson, Osceola Water Works Superintendent. “But between our announcement in October to water measurements as recent as February, we’ve seen some truly impressive efforts in conservation at those levels.”

One of Osceola’s largest industrial water users, Hormel/Osceola Foods and their packaging and shipping partner DHL Shipping were part of ongoing discussions about the need for conservation and what it meant to Osceola Water Works’ industrial partners. When the ordinance was made, the Hormel and DHL teams immediately implemented a strategy for water conservation for cooling and other inline processes. This would move the cooling efforts for their industrial machines from water-based to electrical, fan-driven cooling. The teams also began looking into saving water off the production lines by researching low-flow toilets and urinals as well as other water-saving devices throughout their facilities. As a result, water usage for their operations dropped from approximately 300,000 gallons per day (GPD) in July of 2023 to less than 225,000 GPD in February of 2024.

“When you see a business drop their water usage by more than 75,000 gallons per day,” said Patti Snyder, Osceola Water Works Utility Director. “You know some serious efforts are being taken to conserve.”

Other commercial and industrial water customers have made big strides in conservation efforts as well. Hard Rock Car Wash, one of the community’s busiest washes, took the conservation request to heart and, over a 12-month period starting in early 2023, have reduced their monthly water usage by more than 3%. While they did see an increase in use during a January warm spell, they’ve consistently kept their water usage down to help with the conservation efforts.

“These businesses have systems in place for water management and metrics to adhere to for conservation – even in non-drought scenarios.” said Patterson “From a resource cost standpoint, we’d rather see the commercial car washes used over residents running hose water into the street.”

Water conservation for commercial customers has also been monitored and results have shown some impressive changes. China Star Restaurant and the Clarke County Courthouse, both users of more than 10,000 GPD prior to the October ordinance, dropped their water use to 3,000 and 4,000 GPD respectively, easily exceeding the 3 to 10% reduction request.

“A thousand gallons or 75,000 gallons, every bit counts in conservation,” said Patterson. “We’ve been pleased with our commercial and industrial partners’ efforts and their commitment to our community.”

When 75% of the water used in Osceola is attributed to the commercial, industrial, and institutional customers, results like these make a significant impact in the effort to save water. Residents, who make up the other 25%, have also been making tremendous efforts to do their part in water conservation. Some going as far as reclaiming rainwater and runoff from their homes into rain barrels and moving from tap water to bottled water for cooking and drinking.

The Osceola Water Works team, along with City and other local leadership are working diligently on alternative water solutions to Osceola’s West Lake. Recent meetings with Iowa DNR and State-level organizations have gotten the teams closer to possible alternate water sources and relief for West Lake. The Osceola Water Works team continues to work with engineers, SIRWA, and other water works organizations on possible shared resources or cooperative water solutions across the area. And the CCDC recently approved a grant for up to $75,000 to help with costs associated with transportation and/or pumping of water from area sources to West Lake to replenish any water used in the municipal pool and golf course.

“It should go without repeating, but we’re all in this together,” said Patterson. “From our industrial partners to City and county officials, we’re all working toward the same solution: a safe, sustainable, and healthy water source for all of our customers.”

If you have questions or comments about water conservation or would like more information about the water conservation ordinance, please contact Brandon Patterson, Osceola Water Works Superintendent, 208 West Jefferson Street, PO Box 515, Osceola, Iowa 50213, phone: 641-342-1435 or email: