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A Richfield engineering firm has recommended the city construct a pressurized irrigation system that would cost more than $4 million, based on a recently completed feasibility study.

Jones and DeMille Engineering recommended three alternatives for a pressurized system, contending that under current conditions, the city's water system is not able to meet current or future demand.Richfield has seldom experienced a serious culinary water shortage, however. The principal source is a spring west of the city, augmented by wells that have been drilled in recent years.

One water shortage occurred this summer. But city officials appealed for residents to voluntarily conserve water, quickly bringing the supply back to safe levels within a couple of days.

The alternatives proposed by the engineering firm for a pressurized irrigation system include: A storage facility utilizing existing pumps and silting basins and installing a distribution system, costing $4.4 million; a similar system but including two ponds and use of water and pumps from a well at the golf course, costing within $84,000 of the first alternative; and a system to serve only large irrigation users, costing $914,500.

About one-third of the city's residents use flood irrigation for lawns and gardens from irrigation water shares owned by the city. Others use culinary water for that purpose.

Some schools, the city parks and churches use culinary water for irrigation. Storage water delivered in the canals for irrigation is used at the Lions and Rotary parks, Sevier Valley Applied Technology Center, the cemetery and golf course.

About 500 acres in Richfield are irrigated with culinary water, the City Council was told by Tristan DeMille, a partner in the engineering firm. He projected that the supply will diminish and become more costly as the population increases.

There are some disadvantages to constructing a pressurized irrigation system, however.

The city would need to purchase an additional 1,000 shares of water from the Sevier Valley Canal and would lose about $35,000 per year in culinary water receipts. Also, streets would have to be dug up in new subdivisions.

The communities of Monroe and Annabella built new pressurized systems, but they did so years ago before much growth had occurred. Monroe has since completed new, extensive street projects.

DeMille said the system and purchasing additional shares of irrigation water would provide sufficient water for all but the driest years. In wetter years, a surplus could be leased to farmers.