Price will 'wait and see' on drought response
With the spring season now well underway, the eyes of many Price City officials continue to pore over any water-related information with the period of high water use rapidly approaching.
Gary Sonntag, Price City Public Works director, said during a Price City Council meeting on March 26 that the latest water level readings at Scofield Reservoir came in at 16,300 acre feet. A reading two months prior on Jan. 20 showed the water level at the reservoir at 14,436 acre feet.
While the former number is nearly 2,000 acre feet higher due to precipitation and snowfall over the past two months in the mountains, the water level is still far below for this time of the year, Sonntag told the council.
The winter season has produced more days with rainfall within many of the cities in Carbon County while the surrounding mountains have seen minimal amounts of snowfall during those times.
River Commissioner Bob Davis told the Sun Advocate back in January that water levels at the reservoir were the lowest he's seen in the last few years.
"Terrible, terrible, terrible," Davis said of the water levels.
Low water levels at Scofield is not something that Price City is facing alone. Many counties in Utah and many counties and states across the southwest are facing possible water shortages and drought conditions.
Davis said the area has seen many low levels of water before only to have bounce back years that follow it. Davis, who has been in his position for 24 years, noted that the reservoir was at extremely low levels in 1991 so much that water was not allowed to be pulled from it for use. The following year in 1992, the reservoir, which has a capacity of 65,000 acre feet, received so much water that it was spilling over.
Three years ago, the reservoir spilled over. Since that time, the water levels have dropped with each spring runoff.
There are two concerns with the snow pack on the mountain that the city will continue to monitor on a regular basis. Carbon County and much of the state of Utah have seen strong winds over the past few weeks. Strong winds have the ability to cause the snow on the mountains to evaporate leaving the possibility of water that may never make it to Scofield Reservoir. Also there is some concern that the water that does come down the mountains to the reservoir may end up being absorbed into the parched areas in areas around the reservoir.
While those concerns are going to be closely monitored over the next few months, Price City is in no hurry to enact water restrictions.
Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo suggested that the council and city officials work on informing the community about using water as wisely as possible. He and other members on the council agreed that there needs to be a push to help inform the community with the late spring and summer watering seasons on the horizon about being as efficient with water as they can.
"The city should not move to water restrictions right away," said Piccolo.
Residents looking to begin watering their yards are not the only ones keeping a close eye on things. Sonntag said city officials have met with those within the city who use irrigated water for farming and other needs. He noted to the council that no final decision had been made, but there was a possibility of a cutback on the amount of water they would have access to at some point during the summer.