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LINDON PUSHING CONSERVATION, `GRAY WATER’ IN WAKE OF DROUGHT

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Even with the recent rain, water is - and will remain - a scarce commodity for communities who use it unwisely, said the city recorder for Lindon, where water is selling for $3,000 a share currently.

"We are, after all, in a desert and people forget that," said Ray Brown. "I think we'll have enough if we realize our limitations."Lindon is asking its citizenry to refrain from watering their lawns and gardens between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day, but Brown said Lindon has plenty for future growth if the unusual drought conditions let up and things return to a normal state.

The tiny city of Lindon has predetermined boundaries and can pretty well figure out precisely how much growth it can still experience.

Also, the city has had the foresight, said Brown, to put in a pressurized secondary water system in 1992 known as "gray water" that cuts the demand in half on the culinary water system by capturing and using the surface water for irrigation.

But even so, lots of new building - especially on the foothills - where water hasn't traditionally been coupled with the land has caused a water grab.

The price rose from $750 a share in 1991 to the "hopefully topped-out price" of $3,000 today, set by the city in an attempt to get some of the remaining shares rapidly changing hands between landowners and developers.

Brown said the city had to meet the price being paid by developers to encourage people to sell the water to Lindon.

Lindon also set forth a policy - effective this past March - that requires a water share per acre before any building permits are issued.

Without the water share, the cost for access to gray water is the $3,000 per share price.

A few are exempted. For instance, if a home has existed for an extended time on a piece of property that didn't come with a water share for one reason or another, the city will grant a relief petition - if the owner has made reasonable effort to purchase or find water.

They may continue to reside and buy into the gray water system but they may not develop further without providing water, said Brown.

Some, like George King of Orem, have bought property expecting to pay around $700-800 for a share and are shocked to find the price in the thousands.

Brown said major developers, like David Allen of Canberra Development, have had to search extensively to provide the water for 300-400 homes.

"The foothills have not had the water with the land before, so that's been tough to find," said Brown.

Usually old-timers have the shares or know where they are, he said. But very often they've been sold away and a new owner must seek shares outside of Lindon.

Orem is also currently looking for water shares and is willing to pay 5 percent above the asking price.

"We're asking them not to do that anymore," said Brown. "That kind of thing just drives the prices up."

All of the water must be deliverable from the Provo River so there is a limited amount to be purchased. And in a year like this one, when the stream flow is cut 50 percent and may be cut again by another 20-30 percent, everyone's share is pretty small.

In a severe drought, the wells dry up and threaten disaster, he said.

Lindon has four wells, one that matches all of the other three in output in a normal year.

The gray water is untreated water coming from Deer Creek reservoir and going to Salt Lake City to be treated as culinary water.

"Next year, we'll be taking water out of the aqueduct and so we won't have to pump anymore. That'll cut our costs further," said Brown.

"If Salt Lake drinks, we'll be able to irrigate."

He thinks the biggest threat to available water in the area is the federal government.

"If they get a hold of it, they'll be selling it back to us by the glassful at a high price," said Brown.