Park City drought declaration difficult to forecast
May 11, 2018
Editor's note: This article is one of four exploring the water situation in the Park City area following a winter with sparse snowfall. The others examine the snowpack, the capability of the city waterworks system to withstand a dry year and the impact of lower-than-average runoff on the fish population.
Park City heads into a summer watering season after a winter with snowfall well below normal.
City Hall officials have not yet declared a drought, but such a move is possible as the summer progresses. Drought declarations are based on the amount of water used in Park City as compared to the amount of water available. The available water can change throughout the summer based on factors like the melting snow and precipitation.
The municipal drought ordinance outlines three stages with restrictions that become tighter as conditions worsen. The stages, as outlined by City Hall:
• Stage 1, which the water manager has the power to declare. A Stage 1 drought occurs when the demand on the system tops 85 percent of the water available at that time. Under a Stage 1 drought, officials attempt to cut the demand through voluntary measures and public-awareness campaigns. City Hall during a Stage 1 drought will issue citations for violations of municipal watering rules rather than warnings.
• Stage 2, which is declared through a mayoral executive order. A Stage 2 drought is declared when the demand on the system rises above 90 percent of the available water at that time. Under a Stage 2 drought, officials institute mandatory restrictions on water, such as limiting watering to twice weekly and barring washing driveways and sidewalks. Car washing using water that was not recycled and installing landscaping are prohibited under a Stage 2 drought.
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• Stage 3, which is also declared through a mayoral executive order and occurs when the demand on the system exceeds 90 percent even after the restrictions of Stage 2. The use of water is further restricted under a Stage 3 drought, including a prohibition on outdoor watering unless doing so is required for reasons related to health and safety. City Hall prohibits filling pools as well as decorative water features under a Stage 3 drought.
Park City last declared a Stage 1 drought in 2007. A Stage 1 declaration was nearly made in 2012 as well. Park City's waterworks officials say the first week of May is too early to project whether any stage of drought will be declared this year.