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Lehi imposes emergency watering restrictions

LEHI — The city is experiencing an emergency shortage of its drinking water supply, and workers went door-to-door Wednesday and Thursday to ask residents to stop using tap water on gardens, lawns and to refrain from washing driveways or cars.

"We have seen too much usage in that area," said Robert Ranc, a city spokesman. "We want people to stop using culinary water for irrigation purposes."

Highland is also facing restrictions, joining Pleasant Grove and Lindon as the start of summer promises cutbacks for cities along the Wasatch Front.

Winter's abysmal snowpack is also raising havoc with the city's supply of pressurized irrigation water, leading city officials to institute mandatory restrictions that prohibit watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The city implemented its "extraordinary water conservation measures," in part because it is getting only 30 percent of the irrigation water it typically gets, Ranc said. Similar restrictions are being imposed on secondary water in Highland, where City Council members voted Tuesday to enact mandatory measures.

In Lehi, sprinkler irrigation of public and private places is allowed Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for properties with an odd-numbered city or county address, while even-numbered addresses can have sprinkler irrigation on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Sunday is encouraged to be a day for "spot watering" only, according to the city flier being distributed.

Highland's City Administrator Aron Palmer said home addresses with odd numbers may water Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while even-numbered addresses are limited to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Water is prohibited for everyone on Sunday.

Because of the stingy snowpack and dry spring months, Lehi's ponds and wells for culinary water are being depleted faster than they can fill, Ranc said.

"We've had consecutive dry winters and unusually dry Mays and Junes."

Ranc is hopeful that advising residents of the shortages will take care of the pressing emergency.

"We expect there to be no problems with our culinary water supply if people stop using the water outside," he said.

Ranc said he suspects other northern Utah County cities may also start to feel the pinch with their water supplies.

"But we are the biggest, fastest-growing city, so it is more acute for us."

The reductions in Lehi and Highland's secondary water supply to households is in part because of curtailments imposed this spring by the Provo River Water Users Association.

Jeff Budge, operations and engineering manager for the association, said board members in May looked at the amount of water that would come from the mountains into Deer Creek and instituted a delivery reduction of 40 percent.

A month later, they reduced it again by 70 percent.

Budge said both adjustments were temporary, with a final number to be settled on Thursday by a board vote.

"I imagine it may come up some."

In Pleasant Grove, odd- and even-day watering restrictions have been in place for several years, but the association's cutbacks are leading to more aggressive enforcement, said City Attorney Christina Petersen.

The city is sending employees out to residences to monitor water usage and depending on the circumstances, violators will be either be warned or cited, she said.

Lindon has prohibited 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. watering on a daily basis, and while no other restrictions are in place, city officials said they will re-evaluate the situation as the summer unfolds.

The persistent drought in Utah led another water provider in late May to institute cutbacks.

Last month, the board of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District voted to institute irrigation reductions by 20 percent. That district serves customers in Weber, Davis, Morgan and Summit counties.

The June water supply outlook released U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service in early June said that reservoir storage went up only 1 percent from the month before, indicating that much of the runoff that did happen was used as it came into the reservoirs.

"Everybody is down 40 to 60 percent of what they normally would have received in a good water year," Budge said. "It boils down to the fact that the snow all fell in the wrong place to get any kind of runoff."


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