How dry is dry? That's the question Carbon County residents are asking as the fifth consecutive year of drought appears to be approaching
On Monday, Price officials sent information out to the public on the new water line being installed from the city's treatment plant in the canyon to the storage facility on Wood Hill.
Included with the information were tips on what residents and businesses should do to conserve water.
Few experts have hope that the precipitation pattern will improve in the next couple of months. Even with a rainy spring, which sometimes occurs in Utah in April and May, it would be almost impossible to the bring the precipitation level to normal.
According to officials, the mind set local residents in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county must take is one of conservation.
The water situation numbers cited in the city's information compare exactly with the measurements given out at the Price River Water Improvement District meeting last week.
The Mammoth/Cottonwood drainage above Scofield Reservoir has 13.9 inches of water in the snow pack, registering at five inches below normal. Only 74 percent of the water normally in the hills above the county's main water storage will be available in the spring unless the situation changes dramatically
Called a runoff shed or primary source, the White River drainage also feeds water to the county. The water from the area runs down the White into the Price River. Whatever water is caught and used at the time is all that can be taken from the drainage. The rest flows down the Price into the Green River.
The White River drainage has 63 percent of normal moisture in its snow pack.
Although there is a slightly better snowpack in both places compared to the same time last year, the long-term drought has damaged the reserves in Scofield.
Last year, the reservoir contained 28,020 acre feet of water. But currently, Scofield has only 16,730 acre feet. Typically, users take about 30,000 acre feet per year out of the storage facility. The reservoir is considered full at 63,800 acre feet.
Carbon County actually uses more water than flows into the reservoir during the peak drainage season.
Only 28,000 acre feet enters Scofield during the peak period of flow from April to July. The difference is made up by the amount of drainage occurring at different times of the year and the facility has the extra storage capacity to take advantage of the wet years.
But a wet year has not occurred since 1997.
Price officials have asked the city's culinary system customers to take a number of precautions to conserve water now, so enough will be available during the hot weather.
First, the officials are asking people to wait as long as possible to use outside water for any purpose. Price officials are also encouraging residents to delay regular outside use until May 15, when the city's treatment plant begins operating for heavy seasonal water supplies.
Once outside use starts, Price officials suggest that sprinklers be used judiciously and that automatic systems be set up to run just enough to keep lawns alive.
Citizens are urged to only water two days per week and not between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m..
If putting in a new yard, they are asking that residents start thinking about xeroscaping (using low water plants and landscapes; things that naturally occur in the desert that surrounds the local community).
The officials are also asking that water reuse become a priority. In other words, using water for one use, such as washing, and then using it to water yard plants and so forth.
Price also has an ordinance that totally restricts water use on Sundays and also regulates use by large water users, such as churches and schools.
The Helper City council will be meeting later this month to figure out what they will be doing with their water situation as well.
At present, Helper officials are reportedly looking at raising water rates, but not just for conservation.
Water officials report that the water system that carries water to the city is in need of repair and the increase is needed to fund the repairs. But the conservation idea is within those plans as well.
As for the unincorporated county and the areas PRWID serves, officials from that agency are speculating that things will certainly be tight this year.
"Our water situation will certainly be no better than last year and in fact, by they end of the summer the situation may be much worse," stated Jeff Richens, assistant district manager for PRWID.
"We ask that people begin by being careful with water right away. We want residents to water outside only when they absolutely need to and to not water in the heat of the day," continued Richens.
So it appears for another summer season, water will be on everyone's mind and on the minds of those who must supply it.