Hot temps spike watering
It’s been scorcher after scorcher and officials monitoring how much water people in Park City and the Snyderville Basin are using have noticed.
They say that West Siders have been running lots of sprinklers in the last couple weeks, a trend that waterworks officials would prefer tick downward as they try to properly manage the next two months. People usually stop watering their lawns so often in September.
In Park City, though, the Public Works Department reports the numbers are not approaching records.
However, in the Basin, where the public-sector Mountain Regional Water Special Service District operates, water was flowing generously in June, the district’s chief says.
Andy Armstrong, the general manager of Mountain Regional, which serves about 7,000 people in the Basin, says customers used more water in June than any previous June in at least five years.
"We’re real high. Our numbers are up. We’ve had some of the highest consumption we’ve had," Armstrong says. "It’s been hot and it’s not coming down and we’re not getting respite from rain."
He says that several Mountain Regional wells are not operational, further stressing the system. Mountain Regional has neared its capacity, according to Armstrong.
At the Park City Public Works Department, the director, Jerry Gibbs, says that the numbers in the city had been charting at about 7.5 million gallons per day at the beginning of July. He calls those reasonable figures. But, starting in mid-July, the amount had climbed to about 8 million gallons daily, he says.
On Monday, July 17, Parkites used 8.3 million gallons, the most in a day in 2006, Gibbs says. He is encouraged, though, since, in the past, the peaks were higher, noting the all-time high of just less than 9 million gallons in a day, reached in 1995.
He says that the lower numbers reflect City Hall’s efforts to encourage Parkites to use less water.
"That’s still way below what we had in previous years," Gibbs says. "It shows people are trying to conserve."
The city’s capacity in 2006 is 10.5 million gallons in a day, up from the approximately 9.5 million daily in 2005. A well in Park Meadows is operating in 2006 but was not in 2005, causing the difference.
Both the Public Works Department and Mountain Regional enforce watering restrictions in the summer. Each requires that people who live at even-numbered addresses water their lawns on even-numbered days and people at odd-numbered addresses water on odd-numbered days.
In Park City, people cannot water between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., avoiding evaporation by the midday sun. Mountain Regional customers are not supposed to water from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Most of the water used in the summer on the West Side is sprinkled onto lawns.
The Public Works Department and Mountain Regional sometimes issue tickets to people violating the watering rules. Armstrong says that Mountain Regional through the middle of the week had not cited anyone in 2006. Gibbs says nobody in Park City had been issued a ticket through the middle of the week but about 15 people had been warned.
In Park City, fines for violating the watering rules start at $50 for a first ticket and climb to $500 for a fifth.
"We try not to give out tickets. We hope people will comply once they get a warning," Gibbs says.
Insa Riepen, the executive director of Recycle Utah, which promotes water conservation, says people sometimes position sprinklers in spots too close to driveways and streets, sending some of the water onto asphalt and concrete instead of grass.
"Nothing grows on the roads so we’re wasting a lot of water," Riepen says.
She also stresses that people should follow the rules prohibiting them from watering in the daytime.
"The message that we have is a simple one: don’t water during the day," Riepen says.
But Riepen says that, with Summit County’s growth, newcomers sometimes are not familiar with the arid weather in the West and do not conserve water when they arrive.
"We are developing at a rapid speed. We have 30,000 or such people in Summit County now . . . The more we can conserve, the better," she says.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus.