If water plants close, how long can supply last?
Should Price City encounter a problem with contaminated water or a shortage of water, the city is ready in the event a problem arises.
At the Price City Council meeting on July 28, Councilman Jeff Nielson posed the question of how long could Price City go without a source of water, using only the city's water tanks. Gary Sonntag, public works director with Price City, said that Price City could go between two and a half to three days without a source, providing all outside watering be cut off.
Extra water is needed during the summer months to help supplement the usage of water with people watering their lawns and washing their cars.
Currently the average daily water usage in Price is about five million gallons, said Mayor Joe Piccolo. The city has two water tanks in service which have space for a total 13 million gallons of water. On average the city has about seven and a half to eight million gallons in the tanks, Sonntag said.
"Our aim is to keep the tanks as full as possible because of things like fire protection and backup for unforeseen situations," Sonntag said.
Over the last two weeks, Price City has been fighting some turbidity issues not because of mud, but because of a weird algae bloom that is causing the impact, said Sonntag. The algae bloom is causing the water to turn a blue and green color. The effort to treat water and get it up to approved standards and down the pipes to the city is an ever present challenge, Sonntag said.
The problem has been hard to treat because of how small the algae are. Finding the right combination and dosages of cleaning solution has been a challenge. The process to clean out the algae from the water works when a cleaning solution is added with the solution latching onto the algae through the process of coagulation. The coagulation process collects the algae particles and drops them to the bottom, not allowing them to flow through the system.
On July 30, a solution was found to work well against the algae and the following day there was evidence that more water was filtering through the system, increasing the water levels in the storage tanks, Sonntag said.
Also adding to the problem are the recent rainstorms within the area. The rainstorms bring down a lot of sediment with it, causing more turbidity in the water "compounding the problem," Sonntag said.
Mayor Piccolo was questioning whether or not the algae bloom was coming from Scofield. Sonntag said he did not know for sure but he has inquired about the issue and is awaiting a response back. Dealing with algae is nothing new as it is a common occurrence in the late summer months, he said.
Sonntag proposed the idea of reeducating the community about wise water usage during the Price City Council meeting last week. Not wasting water and knowing how often and how long to water lawns are some of the key components, he said.
"We need to practice that here in Price," Sonntag said. "We have before and we need to continue with that."
The two- to three-day supply figure also applies to the Price River Water Improvement District. Manager Jeff Richens said that the supply depends on Price City being able to back up PRWID, just as PRWID would be able to help Price if the need arose.
That short time limit applies to summer time use only, when demand is high for lawn watering.
Richens said having too much water storage capacity could be a problem in itself. During colder months, when demand for outdoor watering drops, water could sit in tanks for a long time and grow stale.