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Price weighs methods for water conservation

Sun Advocate reporter

With little rain and snowfall in the winter and spring months, Price City is looking into revising and implementing a city-wide water conservation plan to counteract the lower water level compared to years past.

At the City Council meeting on Wednesday evening, Gary Sonntag, Price City public works director, said the city is looking into revising and implementing a resolution that could see Price City residents being asked to lower their water usage to coincide with the lower water levels from springs the city draws water from and at Scofield reservoir.

After the discussion, the city council passed a 4-0 motion in favor of creating a revised resolution concerning water usage and possible outside water restrictions that was first introduced in 1993. Councilman Layne Miller was excused from the meeting.

The water levels and the minute amounts of snow and rain received over the past year are reminiscence of a drought in 1992, Sonntag said. That year Scofield Reservoir got down to low levels which caused the city to pass a resolution implementing restrictions on water usage in the city.

Sonntag said the restrictions were put into place because water levels at the reservoir were dropping so quickly. While the drought in 1992 greatly affected the city's water supply, Sonntag noted that the following year had a high snow pack bringing water levels back to normal levels.

While the current situation is troublesome and will require consistent monitoring, the city is not looking to bring back the same restrictions last seen in 1992.

"There is no need to panic at this time," Sonntag told the city council. "(The low water levels) needs to be controlled."

While water restrictions are a distant possibility, the idea has not worked as planned in the past, Sonntag said.

"The restrictions did not work at first in 1992 because residents were concerned that they were going to lose the ability to have consistent water," he said. "Restrictions tended to raise the amount of water used by residents."

Starting in June of 1992, the city council passed resolution 92-11 which set forth a schedule for use of culinary water including water outside. The city created a water schedule that allowed residents, businesses and entities to water but during different days of the week. Guidelines within the resolution included outside watering only being allowed between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 8 a.m. And from 6 p.m. to 12 p.m. on appropriate days, no one being allowed to water on Sundays and large water users being allowed to use outside water between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m.

The resolution also broke up even and odd numbered addresses in the city, having them water on Mondays and Thursdays and Tuesdays and Fridays respectively.

Another resolution, 92-15, passed in Aug. 1992 and began to see the restrictions become more strict in what days residents and businesses could use for outside watering purposes. Two more resolutions would follow, including 93-02 which saw residents being allowed to resume outside watering without restrictions and large water users still having to adhere to an approved watering schedule.

While restrictions are one option on the table, Sonntag and the city council agreed the best option is to improve education on outside watering and maintaining yards for residents. The council discussed the possibility of including some information and tips within utility bills about what residents can do to cut down their usage of water.

Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo said the city should concentrate on creating plan to deal with water usage by residents in a timely manner.

"A timely release of a plan is important," Piccolo said.

Councilman Rick Davis agreed with Piccolo's idea of a timely release of a plan stating that, "citizens would be receptive to a water plan if the city explains the situation to them."

Other areas that Sonntag said that city could look into include raising the base rate for water usage above the allotted amount per user. One suggestion included approving a fee of $.25 per 1,000 gallons more than the base amount.

A decision on creating a new resolution should come over the next few weeks, Sonntag said, as city officials will determine which route is the best to take.

"This will take some time to put together," he explained saying the city would focus on a voluntary conservation approach to the situation.

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