SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Wondering when you can wash your vehicle on base again?

Use of the naval base’s government and exchange wash racks might still be months away due to lingering effects of a drought in Sasebo city, Navy officials said this week.

Water in the city’s reservoirs is still below levels deemed safe and has increased only about 10 percent since the city faced widespread water rationing in December.

The base has restricted its water use since November by cutting pressure to some buildings and barring car washes. The effort will continue until city reservoirs are filled by rain, base commander Capt. Tilghman Payne said Tuesday.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Payne said during a radio appearance. “We’re still in the midst of a drought.”

The last two months had unusually low rainfall and at times water in reservoirs dropped 2 percent per day, he said.

The base hopes the typically rainy season of March and April will fill the reservoirs and restrictions could be lifted in May if water levels reach 90 percent, Payne said.

The reservoirs were at 65.5 percent Tuesday — the same level that originally triggered water restrictions on base in November, according to the city waterworks bureau.

“Measures that were taken have been effective and the situation has been recovering, but it has not been solved yet,” said Sadayoshi Emoto, a Sasebo city water resources measurement official.

Water pressure will continue to be reduced in Sasebo homes until the water supply recovers to 80 percent, Emoto said.

“It is best that the situation will be solved as soon as possible since it has lasted for a long time and we understand that it has been a trouble (for residents),” he said.

The city is counting on the coming weeks to replenish the reservoirs, Emoto said.

“We can usually hope for a good amount of rain in March,” he said.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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