Drought grips Park City | ParkRecord.com

Drought grips Park City

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Worried that Parkites are using too much water and leery of forecasts for hot, dry weather, City Hall Wednesday declared Park City in a drought, asking people to voluntarily cut their outdoor watering.

The local government issued what is known as a ‘Stage 1 Drought,’ meaning Parkites are using more than 85 percent of the city’s daily water capacity, or more than 8.3 million gallons.

The declaration makes compliance with water-preservation methods voluntary but the city plans to issue tickets, instead of warnings, to people violating the sprinkling rules.

"I think that will solve it, if people did that. We need a majority doing that," says Kathy Lundborg, City Hall’s water manager.

Officials are especially worried that the amount of water Parkites are using is spiking as Independence Day nears. They are concerned about water shortages to fight fires over the next week.

Mayor Dana Williams blames the hot May and June weather, saying that the temperatures rose earlier and more quickly than they usually do. He is concerned about fires.

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"The fire danger is extreme. I think, right now, maybe people haven’t switched their thoughts to the bigger picture around us," he says about the tinderbox conditions.

Lundborg reports Parkites used at least 8.3 million gallons, which is the 85 percent threshold, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Hot, dry weather," she says. "People are watering."

Lundborg says Independence Day week is when Parkites and visitors usually use the most water.

Park City depends on melting snow for much of its water. Last winter, though, saw marginal snowfall and water officials have been worried about this summer for months.

Recommended preservation measures in a Stage 1 Drought include:

( Shutting down fountains and ponds that do not recycle water.

( Stopping serving water in restaurants unless a customer asks.

( Covering pools so water is not lost to evaporation.

( Limiting filling and refilling swimming pools.

( Limiting washing cars, sidewalks and driveways.

Speaking to Williams and the City Council on Thursday, Lundborg said the worries will not subside soon. She noted water use was up between 30 and 40 percent in May and June. Seventy-five percent of the water is used for sprinkling, she said.

"It’s not going to get better, at all," Lundborg told the elected officials.

Marianne Cone, a City Councilor, had a blunt response.

"I’m depressed, I’m sorry," she said as Lundborg described the situation.

Meanwhile, the Park City Fire District, which serves the West Side, says the water supply is adequate to fight fires. Scott Adams, the assistant fire chief, says City Hall usually informs the fire district if water for firefighting is running low and has not done so in 2007.

"We’re not aware of any problems. Park City has not made us aware yet there is a problem for firefighting," Adams said on Friday.

But he says firefighters are worried about the fire danger and he notes the wildfires raging in the Lake Tahoe region.

On the 4th of July, the fire district plans to expand its force, putting on patrol an additional pickup truck outfitted with a hose and water tank. The district uses the vehicle, known as a brush truck, to get to fires the bigger engines cannot reach.

Adams worries the fire danger is especially bad at Promontory, Silver Creek, Goshawk Ranch and Red Hawk, all in the Snyderville Basin. Inside Park City, Adams says Deer Valley is of concern but he says fires there might not spread as quickly because streets serve as barriers.