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ECC restricts water use

Grassy Trail Reservoir is not very big, but it is the sole water supply for two cities and a power plant.

Sun Advocate reporter

East Carbon officials have placed residents on watering restrictions. The city will also inform Sunnyside Cogeneration in writing that water storage in Grassy Trail Reservoir is dangerously low.

During a special meeting July 2, the City Council voted unanimously to limit outside watering to between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. daily. The council also asked that city attorney Jeremy Humes draft a letter to Sunnyside Cogeneration letting the company know that their intake must slow because the reservoir has no surplus water.

The issue resurfaced during Tuesday night's council session as Mayor Orlando LaFontaine questioned why the cogeneration plant had yet to slow its consumption.

"There is still no conservation from the power plant," said LaFontaine. "Yesterday, I was told their intake was 549,000 gallons for a single day, the whole of East Carbon used 200,000 gallons. What is going on?"

Humes reported that current contracts keep the city from restricting the plant's consumption without 180 days notice. He also informed the mayor that while the council has power to place the residents on restriction, a city ordinance keeps them from restricting businesses.

"If the city wants to look at changing that ordinance to give this body power to restrict businesses they can do that," said Humes. "The city has taken action with regard to the sale of surplus water to Sunnyside city, but unfortunately we are bound by the terms of that contract which states that any change can't kick in for 180 days."

The Sunnyside Cogeneration Plant obtains its water through a 1983 contract with Sunnyside city.

LaFontaine asked that Humes contact water rights attorney Steve Clyde to see if any superceding state ordinance could push conservation on the plant before water levels become "dangerously low."

City maintenance officials have told the council that the reservoir is dropping between five and seven inches per week, a number that will only increase as the summer wears on.

"I've never seen that lake down this low at this time of the year," said LaFontaine. "It's down seven feet from the spillway and we are in July. It's usually three feet below the spillway in September and October. I'm really concerned about the reservoir."

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