The Price River Water Improvement District revealed figures on the agency's water production at a meeting of the board of directors last week. The data show, despite a decreasing population in the county, water use has grown almost every year since 1990.
"These charts show the use in the past 13 years as well as our production and our trades in water with Price city as well," said district manager Phil Palmer.
One striking thing about the water delivered by PRWID is that the gallonage has grown substantially since 1993.
The last seven drought years have resulted in the highest levels of growth.
In 1990, PRWID delivered 486 million gallons of water for customers, while last year, in 2003 it was at 559 million gallons. The latest total was down from five years before and the PRWID systems supplied as much as 645 million gallons during 2001.
"I don't know what word to use to describe the fact that water use goes up in drought years," said assistant district manager Jeff Richens. "You could call it a fallacy or a paradox. But when people try conservation methods during drought years, we often find in other areas of their lives they use more water. For instance, they may put a brick in their toilets to displace water for each flush, but because there is no rain to water their lawns, they put much more on their landscape that same season."
Palmer pointed out that what water is delivered and what the water plant in Price Canyon actually produces are different numbers because of trades with Price city during high use times or emergency situations.
"We have a very good agreement with Price city on water," explained Palmer. "If they need some, we can help them and, if we need some, they can help us."
Generally, Price needs to secure water from PRWID during the summer months when the use is most heavy and the city's wells and water plant in Price Canyon is producing at capacity. During the cooler months, Price often helps supply water for PRWID.
"Price has excess spring water during the winter so we utilize that," pointed out Richens. "During the summer, they need more water so we send them treated water. The city understands it is not a one for one trade because our treated water is so much more expensive to produce than their spring water is."
Price shuts the city's water plant down in the fall and doesn't operate it during the winter. PRWID runs at full capacity starting in April of each year (three shifts) and scales down to two shifts in the fall. The PRWID plant often operates at one shift during the winter months.
"Sometimes the plant only actually produces water one or two days a week during the winter," noted Richens. "Obviously, we only need to produce what people need."
PRWID sources vary. But most of the district's water comes from Scofield Reservoir, with some winter runoff secured by a long-term lease agreement with Utah Power & Light.
PRWID provides water for most of the unincorporated areas in the county and all of Wellington city. The district also supplements Helper and Price when needed.
The lowest amount of water delivered since 1990 was in 1992 when the PRWID system sent 477 million gallons down the pipes to customers. The average yearly production for the 13-year period was 555 million gallons annually.