The Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake has set limits for Deer Creek Reservoir water it will sell to wholesale customers outside its own service area.
The probability that Deer Creek will not fill, a snowpack that is 38 percent below average and projections for stream flows that are 52 percent of average in the Provo River drainage as of April 1 prompted the limits to ensure an adequate water supply for Salt Lake City, said Nick Sefakis, district general manager."We don't want anybody to get alarmed," Sefakis said. "If everybody uses their water wisely, we can provide an adequate water supply."
Of its 61,700 acre-foot annual allotment of Deer Creek water, the Metropolitan Water District sold 12,000 acre-feet last year to the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District and 5,000 acre-feet to irrigators in Utah and Salt Lake counties. Sefakis said Tuesday they will only sell 10,000 acre-feet to the conservancy district and 2,500 to the irrigators this year.
Providing 10,000 acre-feet to the county fulfills the requirements of two contracts between the two water agencies that date back to 1953 and 1962. Sefakis said the agricultural customers have been notified that only half of the water they bought last year will be available this year.
"It is difficult to assess what it's going to do," said Robert Hilbert, county conservancy district general manager. "In average years we have used less than that (10,000 acre feet)."
But in an average year the county district wouldn't have the pressure of a limit from the metropolitan district. "We're not painting a dismal picture; we're painting a cautious picture," Hilbert said.
The metropolitan district's projections assume summer weather conditions are average. If the summer is hotter or drier than expected, the limits could be reduced. If conditions are wetter than expected, the limits could be relaxed.
Salt Lake City uses between 55,000 and 60,000 acre-feet of stream water during an average year, said Wendell Evensen, city water superintendent. Last year the streams yielded 44,913 acre-feet, and the city used 33,000 acre-feet from Deer Creek.
With stream flows projected to be 10 percent lower than last year, LeRoy W. Hooton Jr., city public works director, estimated the city will use 41,000 acre-feet from Deer Creek this year and increase well pumping 15 percent.
Sefakis, Hooton and Hilbert have planned for the third year in a row to engage in a daily conference call to monitor supplies. An expanded group that includes the agricultural users and Provo River officials plans to meet at least monthly during the summer to monitor the water supply situation, Sefakis said.