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Mapleton urges water conservation

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MAPLETON — Residents here have used more water than city officials anticipated, triggering a call to voluntarily reduce outside watering through mid-August.

For the first time since 1995, the city used a pump to fill its 2 million gallon water tank at the mouth of Maple Canyon. Water pressure all but disappeared recently in some east bench neighborhoods, said Public Works Director Scott Bird. City Councilman Don Walker Jr. said the water pressure at his house disappeared for a time late last week.

City officials are asking residents to reduce usage and follow an even-odd watering plan. Houses with even number addresses should water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while houses with odd-number addresses should water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Mapleton relies on springs in Maple Canyon and four wells for its water. Two wells are normally used, Bird said. One is in use full time, while another kicks in when water supplies or water pressure gets low. The second pump that had to be turned on last week is rarely used.

A third well was contaminated in 1986 when the lining of a settling pond at a Spanish Fork explosives plant ruptured, spilling hundreds of thousands gallons of nitrate-contaminated water into the aquifer. Explosive material also contaminated the water, said Don Walker Sr., the city recorder. The city treats the water from that well to remove the contaminants and uses it in the city's pressurized-irrigation system. Subscription to the system is not mandatory, however.

The normal water flow from the main Maple Canyon spring is more than all the others combined, Bird said. Currently the flow from all four springs is less than what the primary spring usually provides, Bird told the City Council on Tuesday.

The water levels at the springs are so low that the regulators at the mouth of Maple Canyon had to be adjusted to capture the water for the tanks, Bird said. In addition to the 2-million-gallon water tank, Mapleton has a 1-million-gallon tank on the south end of town and a 300,000 gallon tank also at the mouth of Maple Canyon.

The city has begun work on a pressurized-irrigation system that pumps irrigation water to homes for outdoor use. Some 400 households could hook up to it now, Bird said. The system is voluntary but requires a $395.32 hook up fee and a year round monthly cost of $12. Some users would recoup that cost over a single summer, Bird said.

"Then we wouldn't have to deal with this," Mayor Richard Young said, urging residents to hook up and take the pressure off the city's culinary-water system. The pressurized irrigation system is available to most homes in the northwest section of town, Bird said.

E-MAIL: rodger@desnews.com