Park City water supply deemed adequate as hot, dry weather persists
July 29, 2016
Mike Rogers has watched many lawns in Park City turn from green to a shade of beige in recent weeks.
Rogers, a manager at Action Snowplow & Lawn, said the spell of hot, dry weather that has gripped the area in July has left dry grass where it typically would not be seen.
Some people nowadays are fine with allowing lawns to dry out in the summer as a means to conserve water and reduce water bills, he said. When the conditions are dry like they have been, he said, lawns need to be mowed less often.
"We see lawns normally beautiful and lush that are starving for water," Rogers said, adding, "They're getting dry super-fast. With the high heat and wind, the evaporation out of the ground is just enormous."
The Park City area this month has suffered through an especially hot stretch of weather with little rain. Officials in Park City recently enacted a ban on fireworks and open flames, citing hazardous wildfire conditions as the weather persisted.
Park City leaders have for years closely monitored weather conditions in the summer with particular interest in the impact on the amount of water that is used in the city on a daily basis. City Hall has long had watering restrictions and, if conditions are deemed to be particularly bad, officials have the authority to take additional steps to require further water conservation.
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Park City restricts watering to 7 p.m. until 10 a.m. to reduce the amount of evaporation. The city also requires people water lawns every other day based on even-numbered and odd-numbered addresses. Someone who wants to water every third day for conservation purposes can sign up to do so.
Clint McAffee, the public utilities director for City Hall, said the waterworks system's capacity is currently 14 million gallons per day, most of it potable water for household and sprinkling or irrigation uses.
McAffee indicated the amount of water used between July 21 and July 27 ranged from 7.5 million gallons on July 27 to 8.3 million gallons tallied on July 23, which was the Saturday of a busy Pioneer Day weekend in Park City.
He said the numbers have generally fallen in recent years as Park City leaders have pressed the conservation efforts such as public-relations programs. Rate increases are also believed to have played a role in the overall reduction since prices, which are tiered, are designed so customers who use lots of water pay more on a per-gallon basis.
McAffee said, as examples, the numbers climbed to 9 million gallons per day in 2012 during the same time of year and 9.7 million gallons in a day in 2008. He said the numbers in 2016 are approximately 6 percent down from the previous year.
"I see conservation really taking effect given how hot it's been and how long it's been at this temperature," McAffee said, adding, 'It's definitely trending downward."
The reduction is important since less energy is used producing water and the aquifers are given time to recharge, he said.
Park City, meanwhile, has a plan for droughts that involves three stages. Officials take a variety of steps at each stage to reduce the amount of water used, such as increasing the public-relations efforts in a first stage and a near prohibition on outdoor water use during a third stage.
McAffee said officials do not anticipate declaring the first stage of drought this year.
"We're close, though," he said.