At a press conference last Friday, Price Mayor Joe Piccolo stressed that things do not look good for the city or the county as far as water goes.
"There's a good indication, no matter how well things go for the rest of the spring, it will not be a normal year when it comes to water use," stated Piccolo. "I believe even though supplies are low, if we are careful and begin now, we can make it stretch."
Currently, water conditions in the mountains around Carbon County are better than last year. But due to lower levels in Scofield Reservoir, the water situation will not be as good in 2003.
A recent decision between Carbon, Emery and Sanpete counties to pump Skyline mine water into Electric Lake will reduce the flow in Muddy Creek.
The counties agreed to divert the Skyline water into the lake to keep the Huntington Power plant running.
Without the 4,000 gallons per minute from the mine, Utah Power would have to close the plant in June, putting hundreds of people out of work.
The agreement means the flow that contributed to the local water situation last year will be cut at least in half.
Installation of the new transmission line will help Price. But a snag near the Helper overpass has put part of the old line out of commission and new connections will take until mid-June to complete. Until then, the most Price's water system can deliver is 2.5 million gallons per day.
"That's a problem if it gets warm," pointed out the mayor. "During peak warm weather, the demand reaches five million gallons per day."
Supplies for businesses and residents could be tight if people do not conserve water.
"Last year, we did an experiment with one of the big users here in town," explained Piccolo. "We found that, if the outside watering is done to its best effect, 50 percent of the water that is normally used can be saved and the lawns can still look good."
The mayor said peaks in water use usually occur in the summer and one other time.
"It seems people like to turn their hoses on outside around the first of April," commented Piccolo. "I don't know what it is, but we have a big peak in water use at that point, too."
The city has planned an education campaign to change residents' habits and cut usage.
"Last year, the residents, conservation hurt the city's bottom line," noted the Price mayor. "But despite the lower revenues, that was good because it showed people were changing how they used water. Every drop saved helps us all."
Piccolo encouraged local residents to take note of things that affect water usage - not only around home, but everywhere in the community.
"If you see something like a broken pipe or a leak of any kind, call us 24-seven," urged Piccolo. "We don't want to waste water with leaking pipes or breaks in the line. Even call me at home if you have to. I am in the phone book."
Responding to a question raised at the meeting, the mayor and city staff pointed out an interconnection with Price River Water Improvement District exists and PRWID is willing to help in an emergency.
"However, if we are using PRWID water, we are using all our water," said Sam White, Price public utilities supervisor.
Another issue involved advising all community members about the situation.
"We plan on doing a one on one with large water users," said Piccolo. "For residents and others, we will be running some ads encouraging conservation."
Several residents asked how the transmission line costs would effect rates.
"Because of lots of fore-planning on the part of the staff at the city, the rate increase will be very low," replied Piccolo. "It looks to be around 2 to 3 percent and will take 25 years to pay for. The line has a life expectancy of 100 years."