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Culinary water supply in Richfield is shrinking

If Richfield's population grows at a snail's pace of only 2 percent, the community will be in a culinary water drought within 17 years.

That's the finding of a culinary water study conducted by Jones and DeMille Engineering and Richfield Finance Director Mike Langston. They said they used the 2 percent figure because they wanted to be on the conservative side of their projections.Richfield's growth has been steady with no population explosion, averaging close to 5 percent annually. A boom is still possible, as has happened in many rural towns and cities in Utah.

The study showed the culinary water system currently has about 2,100 equivalent residential unit connections, along with 200 businesses. Needs are projected at 2,451 connections by the year 2000 and 3,639 by 2020.

Even using the meager 2 percent growth rate, the city will have an inadequate culinary water supply by 2014. The study considered the source of the water and its storage and distribution.

A new well at the city's industrial park will provide one new source of culinary water, and the study says the city should plan for another one. Present water supplies are wells and a spring west of Richfield, which was developed and has been in use since the city's founding.

While Richfield has excess irrigation water through the shares it owns, it doesn't have any additional water rights to drill new wells, said City Administrator Woody Farnsworth.

That leaves city fathers with a dilemma. Should officials try to find a way to get more underground water or build an expensive pressurized irrigation system so that surface water could be used to relieve the demand for culinary water?

Mayor Paul Lyman has opted for the latter, but the City Council refused to go along with his suggestion, opting instead to drill wells to provide enough culinary water for the next few years. Lyman thinks that would be a Band-Aid solution and would not solve the projected water shortage problem.

It was determined three years ago that a pressurized irrigation system would cost $4.4 million.

There will be some relief because the City Council is moving to get public entities, who use large quantities of culinary water for irrigation purposes, off the system. Those include schools, churches and the city parks, where existing irrigation water can be used.