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Drought forces ‘call’ of Virgin River, some users to go without

SHARE Drought forces ‘call’ of Virgin River, some users to go without
The Virgin River in Washington County March 19, 2015.

The Virgin River in Washington County March 19, 2015.

Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — State Engineer Kent Jones is ordering certain users of the Virgin River and its tributaries to stop withdrawing water immediately as the system endures a fourth year of blistering drought.

The action impacts those with water rights above the Washington Fields Diversion that were granted in 1901 or later.

This is the second consecutive summer Jones has taken action on the Virgin River, and in 2014, that call represented the first in history.

"The Virgin River and its tributaries are experiencing significantly diminished flows because of continued drought," this year's advisory reads.

In the same announcement, a local water district announced restrictions.

Effective Monday, residential water users of the Toquerville secondary water system will be limited to outdoor watering a maximum of three assigned days per week between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Agricultural users are limited to watering a maximum of two assigned days per week between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.

According to the Washington County Water Conservancy District, fines of double and then triple the annual assessment will be imposed on the third and then fourth violation. A fifth violation will result in shutting off the water for the duration of the season.

The district is advising people with questions to call 435-673-3617.

A stream measurement device operated by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the Virgin River is flowing at about half what is typical.

— Amy Joi O'Donoghue