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OREM, PROVO RAINFALL IS 74 PERCENT OF NORMAL, BUT NO RATIONING FORESEEN

SHARE OREM, PROVO RAINFALL IS 74 PERCENT OF NORMAL, BUT NO RATIONING FORESEEN

Precipitation in Provo is coming down at only 74 percent of the normal amount, but city officials in Orem and Provo do not foresee any water rationing.

Utah Lake, however, is already about 2.5 feet below normal and could decline to an average depth of about 5 feet, which could curtail some boating on the lake.According to the National Weather Service, Provo usually receives 14.13 inches of water from Oct. 1 through the end of June. Provo had received only 10.46 inches through Monday.

Despite this, city officials report that water supplies in Orem and Provo are adequate.

"We're in good shape this year," said Bruce Chesnut, Orem Water and Waste Water Division manager.

In 1988 the level in Orem's wells was about 20 percent below normal and city officials asked for voluntary water conservation. This year, Chesnut said, the level in city wells is about 3 to 11 feet below normal, which lowers levels "only a very small percentage of average."

Provo's wells have declined between 20 feet and 30 feet since 1986, said Carl Carpenter, water engineer for Provo's Water Division. This does not represent a problem unless the trend continues for several years. He said the wells have been used more lately because springs have been putting out less water than in most years.

Eldon Laird, assistant general manager of the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, said he does not foresee water rationing anywhere in the valley, but all of that could change if a long spell of hot, dry weather hits as it did last summer.

However, Utah Lake has a different story. The typical average depth of Utah Lake is about 9.3 feet, said Jim Williams, the assistant superintendent of Utah Lake State Park. The depth now is less than 7 feet - as low as it was at the end of last summer.

If trends continue, "you're going to be looking at a 5-foot-deep lake," Williams said. In contrast, water levels surged to 15 feet during the wet years earlier in the decade.

In 1986, the state paid $220,000 to dredge a channel in the boat harbor. But that may not be enough for many boats because the area between the dredged harbor and the deeper parts of the lake would be shallow.

"I think we're in pretty good shape," said David Frandsen, chief of Water and Lands Division, Utah Projects Office of the Bureau of Reclamation. Frandsen said most reservoirs in the area are full. But "if it weren't for Deer Creek, we'd be in sad shape."

When temperatures increased in early April, runoff was not as much as was anticipated, Frandsen said, because the water was evaporating into the air or percolating into the soil, which helped recharge underground water supplies, he said. The runoff eventually increased.