Price City vows to set an example in saving water
While a precious and vital resource like water is not always available in abundance, Price City is looking to help lead the way in "slowing the flow" of water usage by focusing on ways to conserve water.
After months of reviewing water usage in the community, the Price City Water Conservation Committee presented a detailed look at many topics to the Price City Council on Wednesday evening including water usage by the city and its residents, where Price City draws its water from and what steps can be taken to help lower water usage by city departments.
Gary Sonntag, Price City Public Works director, said the committee has made great progress and will work to continue the momentum the group has gained over the past six months.
Price City has seen its fair share of high and low water years in the past decade. In 2011, which Sonntag said was a strong water year, 30 inches of water was in the mountains. Just a year later, the number dropped to 11 inches. The latest measurements in the mountains shows a water level of 13 inches.
"We've been in situations with short water supply before," he said.
The first water use in Price City came from the Price River and the area has long depended on sources including Colton Springs for water for the past century, Sonntag said calling the springs a "precious source of water".
"It has been very reliable for the city and the quality is pristine," he explained.
One area of concern for city officials has been the water level at Scofield Reservoir. The water levels were at 50,000 acre feet in 2011 but those levels have dropped to a current level of 29,000 during a recent check.
"We could end up the end on the low side this year," Sonntag said.
While the city is not rushing into any decisions - or think they are a real possibility - on possible water restrictions for residents, the push to get more information out to people about water conservation is a goal they hope to achieve as the warmer weather arrives with spring.
The city is looking into possible ways to inform the community on water usage and what tips can be given to help conserve water. Russell Seeley, Price City engineer, said one possibility would be to include information on the utility bills to residents that could residents better understand their water usage much like the power usage information currently included on bills.
While one idea may be the bigger the lot, the higher the usage of water. That might not always be the case. John Procarione, Price City public works assistant, said lot sizes in the city did not make a difference in the amount of water used by residents. "Some people use a lot of water and some don't," he said.
In 2012, Price City produced 999,999,000 gallons of water total, Procarione said, but Price City used only 5.3 percent of it. City water usage did increase from 45 million gallons in 2011 to 53.3 million gallons in 2012, an increase of 12.3 percent.
Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo said he was surprised to see the amount of water the city produced and how much of it the city is using. If the city is serious about water conservation, then they must lead by example, he said.
"Price City must lead the way in slowing the flow," Piccolo said.
City workers in various departments are looking at ways to cut back on water usage. Brianna Welch, a supervisor with the Parks and Cemetery Department, said one goal of her department is to cut back on watering by 50 percent with the help of ground monitors that give out readings of ground saturation and when watering should be done.
While the city has been working on informing the community about water conservation, they have enlisted the help of a unique creation to help get the message out. A water mascot, Drew Drop, was created by the committee as the face of the program. Dew Drop's look, complete with a snorkel and yellow rain boots, is all over the place including on refrigerator magnets and stickers that the city will be looking to hand out at various events in the upcoming months.
To help get the message across to the city council, Ron Brewer, a water-sewer crew manager, used his guitar and harmonica to sing a song he wrote about water conservation after introducing Dew Drop. Brewer and Sam White, a supervisor with the water-sewer department, also performed a skit for the council that detailed the information available on Price City's website about water conservation that includes information on committee members, tips, water statistics, newsletters and links to websites such as the Division of Water Resources.
With much more work and research still needing to be done, Sonntag said this was a good start for the committee since they first came together in August of last year.
"If we ask the public to do this, we need to look within and see what we can do as well," Sonntag said. "If we think we can do it, then the enthusiasm of conserving water can spread out to the community."