Recent rainfall from last week's storms hasn't made a dent in Payson's irrigation water problems.
Already, city leaders have issued voluntary watering restrictions that allow residents and businesses to use water from Payson's pressurized system three days each week. But compliance has been less than officials had hoped for.Officials say some residents and businesses have been ignoring the restrictions, leaving two existing irrigation water reservoirs perilously low during peak usage times - just before and after typical daily work schedules.
While fliers sent out with monthly residential and business utility bills still call the restrictions voluntary, the city may have to impose fines on heavy water users or risk running out before the summer is through.
"(The recent rain) maybe helped a little bit, but it's really marginal compared to all the days we've gone without rain," City Administrator Keith Morey said. "It kept people from watering a day or two, but with usage as heavy as it's been, that really doesn't make that big of a difference."
Payson, like most of the state, has already seen more than a dozen days of triple-digit temperatures.
"There's just not a lot of water this year. It's a dry year and we're using more than twice as much as we did last year," Morey said. "We just need to make sure we can get through August and September."
Officials are also asking residents not to water on Sundays to allow the two reservoirs to refill fully before irrigation begins again on Monday. They say homeowners should water in the early morning or late evening, when plants receive full watering benefits - otherwise, much of the moisture will be lost to evaporation.
City leaders are busy trying to find other water sources, such as Strawberry Water Users shares Payson can "rent" until the end of the year.
"We may just run out of water if it comes down to it. Or people may have to use their culinary water for irrigation," Morey said. "But we're really trying to avoid that."
City leaders last imposed water restrictions in 1992, while the pressurized system was still under construction and just one of the two reservoirs was servicing the entire city.
Payson installed the $3.6 million pressurized system to avoid water rationing and to conserve water resources. The circular system carries unused water back to its source. The State Board of Water Resources gave the city the low-interest loan to defray the costs of construction and engineering for the project, which residents overwhelmingly approved during the 1990 primary election.
Voluntary pressurized irrigation restrictions remain in place for Payson residences and businesses. Restrictions could become mandatory, and a fine could be levied against offenders if heavy usage continues.
- Even-number addresses: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
- Odd-number addresses: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m.