Mountain Regional Water District to discuss implementing watering restrictions
The majority of Utah’s reservoirs are 55% below capacity as the historic drought persists
The Mountain Regional Water District is slated to meet Thursday to determine how the ongoing drought will impact customers this summer.
The district was notified by the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District that outdoor watering restrictions would likely be implemented in the coming months as dry conditions persist. Mountain Regional sources most of its water from the Weber Basin and plans to follow the lead, according to Lisa Hoffman, Mountain Regional’s assistant general manager.
She said Mountain Regional serves around 5,000 customers across western Summit County from the Snyderville Basin and Kimball Junction to Summit Park and Promontory. The 40-square-mile area has been ranked as level 3, which is the second-highest drought rating.
“We want to be mindful (of water use) with the ongoing, persistent drought,” Hoffman said.
Last year, Mountain Regional adopted a drought response plan that was triggered by mandates issued by the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District. That district asked for a 20% reduction in water use, which Mountain Regional also requested from its customers. The figure is based on a level 3 drought rating with messaging encouraging users to be considerate of their use, according to Hoffman. There was a great response, she said, with the average customer saving between 13% and 15%.
Although the snowpack is better this year, Utah’s reservoirs are worse off. According to data from the state’s Department of Natural Resources, more than half of the state’s largest reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity. Statewide reservoir storage is at 58% capacity compared to 67% around this time last year.
Hoffman said Mountain Regional notified customers in March that watering restrictions may be adopted in response to the lack of precipitation. They started by asking for a 10% reduction indoors, she said, and requested customers delay starting their irrigation systems until June. On Thursday, the Mountain Regional Water Administrative Control Board, which is overseen by the Summit County Council, is scheduled to discuss implementing outdoor restrictions.
Current standards ask customers in a level 3 area to reduce their watering by 20% while a level 4 area is asked to reduce by 60%, according to Hoffman. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District is also asking unmetered customers to reduce water consumption by 60%.
However, Mountain Regional meters all customers, which requires them to pay based on water usage. Many customers are low water users because they pay more if they use more, Hoffman said, and they typically water their lawns three times a week – although the time spent watering also plays a role.
As a result, Mountain Regional may not issue the same restrictions as the conservancy district. Hoffman said customers may be asked to reduce watering to twice a week, or a 33% reduction, or only once a week, which would be a 60% reduction.
The details will be discussed at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Although current statewide reservoir levels are nearly the same as last year, they continue to drop. Reservoir storage statewide is around 43%, compared to 48% in early September. Thirty-five of the state’s 47 reservoirs are below 55% available capacity.
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