The mountains surrounding Carbon County have less snowpack than originally anticipated. In an attempt to mitigate potential water shortages or drought problems, Helper city officials are encouraging local residents to start implementing voluntary conservation measures.
"Due to the fact that we do not have the snowpack we thought we did, immediate voluntary compliance the city's watering ordinance is needed," pointed out Helper Councilman Robert Welch during an interview last Thursday.
In April 2002, the Helper council passed an ordinance amending the municipal code to promote efficient usage and to amend the city's the water rates.
Due to last year's limited water supply, Helper officials prohibited outside watering at the churches and schools located within the city's boundaries for a period of one week last year.
Helper officials lifted the restrictions specified in the city's water ordinance in fall 2003.
"We hope that, if we can get enough volunteer conservation, we will not have to go to such drastic measures this year," noted Welch.
The ordinance limits landscape irrigation to non-peak hours from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. and specifies that Helper residents will not be allowed to clean sidewalks or driveways with water.
"Helper city appreciates all of the citizens who are really conservative in their water use," commented Welch.
"The key is for people to use their heads before wasting water," continued the Helper councilman. "For example, residents should use a broom instead of a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways. Residents should also try to use car washes instead of hoses. Or people can kill two birds with one stone by washing cars on their lawns."
Along with establishing outside watering restrictions, the guidelines enacted by city officials amended Helper's monthly rates. Pursuant to the ordinance, the city assesses a $12 base fee for the provision of water services. The base rate covers up to the first 6,000 gallons of water used per residential hookup.
The city charges residents exceeding the designated base amount an additional $2 per 1,000 gallons of water supplied by Helper's system.
In the event water shortages or drought conditions force the mayor and Helper City Council to reactivate the provisions outlined in the ordinance, citizens violating the restrictions will face criminal prosecution on class B misdemeanor offenses.
Helper continues to rely on underground sources to supply the water for the city's culinary delivery system.
"All of our water comes from underground springs," explained the city councilman. "Helper does not have the advantage of a reservoir."
To compound Helper's water concerns, Welch indicated one spring is temporarily out of the picture due to a broken line. The city has secured funding to repair the line, but cannot rely on water from Fish Creek until after completing the project.
"Helper officials and residents should focus on maintaining the city's storage tanks to capacity so that, in case a major emergency like a large fire occurs, we will have the water to be able to fight it," concluded Welch.