Outdoor sprinkling during the cooler hours of summer days can stretch the supply of a scarce resource: water
Lawn and garden season is here, and with it comes a question: Is it possible for a Carbon County resident to reduce average water use by a dozen gallons a day?
The Price River Water Improvement District thinks so. That amount is six percent of 193 gallons per day, which is what PRWID estimates that every man, woman and child on its system uses on average. It includes lawn and garden watering as well has cooking and bathing.
The district will inform the Utah Division of Water Resources that it intends to achieve that goal by 2015. State law mandates water districts to design five-year plans for water conservation. Rain and snowfall has always been scarce in the second-driest state, and all the good dam sites have already been taken. Conservation, then, is the alternative to new reservoirs or extra rainfall.
PRWID reports that it has already reduced water consumption by nine percent over the past five years. The new conservation plan anticipates that the implementation problems of the past will continue:
The current pricing system leaves nothing in the budget to help consumers replace high consumption devices;
The district has no authority to require replace plumbing fixtures with low flow fixtures;
No one wants a water rate hike to induce conservation;
Encouraging lawn watering during early morning or late evening hours means that everyone waters at basically the same time, so water pressure often drops, which in turn means that it takes longer to get the watering done.
There is also the problem that people who use less water pay less to the district, which translates into less revenue to cover the fixed costs of the system. So PRWID lists "Maintain a financially viable water system" as goal number one. "The water pricing system should encourage customers to reduce water usage without creating a revenue shortfall," the resolution states. The phrase "rate hike" does not appear.
Another goal is to reduce the amount of treated water being used for outdoor uses, such as lawn and garden watering. That goes for public places such as parks, where the district intends to encourage irrigation and plant selection that will conserve water.
Finally, the district intends to enhance its outreach program to the public school system to teach the next generation about the importance of conservation.
PRWID has already taken steps to preserve the water in Scofield Reservoir. For example, it already has a water exchange program with Price City, which enables the district to borrow water from the city's wells and springs, which keeps more water in storage for dry times.
It has also endorsed construction standards that mandate low-flow plumbing fixtures in new homes and remodels. PRWID also encourages irrigators to pipe ditches to reduce seepage in canals and sprinkling instead of flooding for irrigation. This support became reality in 2005, when the district joing with the Carbon Canal Board and U.S. Department of Reclamation in a project to reduce salt flowing into Price River. Water seeping underground from irrigation ditches eventually reaches the aquifer below that leads into the river. The same thing happens with flood irrigation. By replacing ditches with pipe, and using sprinklers instead of flooding, a lot of water is saved. As a result, PRWID reports it got a transfer of water rights and saved 20 cubic feet per second of flow that can be held for other uses.