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2nd Utah County city to enact water restrictions

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue | Posted - Jun 20th, 2013 @ 7:28pm

AMERICAN FORK — Shortfalls in irrigation water are leading another northern Utah County city to enact mandatory restrictions, with American Fork's City Council poised to take official action next week.

Dale Goodman, the city's public works director, said the restrictions have been discussed for some time in a couple of work sessions, with some council members wanting to take action a month ago.

"But cooler heads prevailed," he said. "We wanted to give residents plenty of prior warning."

Lehi moved to the mandatory restrictions Wednesday and is also facing an emergency with its drinking water supplies because officials say too many residents have been using that water for outdoor purposes.

Both cities are municipal recipients of irrigation water from the Provo River Water Users Association, which previously enacted curtailments by more than two-thirds of what is normally delivered to its shareholders.

On Thursday, the association's board adjusted the delivery somewhat to 42 percent of what is delivered, but the decrease is unprecedented, said operations and engineering manager Jeff Budge.

"We will be issuing letters to all of our shareholders this afternoon," he said. "It helps somewhat, but we are still lower than we have ever been. We have never issued an allotment below 50 percent and we are at 42 percent."

Goodman said the restrictions to be imposed are for even-numbered addresses to only water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and properties with odd-numbered addresses restricted to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Sunday, everyone can water.

The restrictions will impact both residential and small commercial users and watering will be restricted to nighttime only, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

More flexibility will be given to parks, churches and other properties with large amounts of green space, he added.

Lehi spokesman Robert Ranc said he believes if residents follow the restrictions, the city will be able to emerge from the crisis with its drinking water supplies intact.

Provo deputy mayor Corey Norman said there have been discussions about leasing Lehi some of its water to help it through the emergency, adding that Provo's supplies are in good shape.

In American Fork, Goodman said the city's problem has been compounded with its supply of water from the American Fork Canyon, which is about gone. The city, however, is in good shape with its drinking water supply because of rights to natural springs that were acquired some 100 years ago.

"It's just the outside watering that is going to be really hard this year," he said.

The latest assessment by the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows nearly half of Utah — 48 percent — is in severe drought and a big chunk of San Juan County is now suffering from extreme drought conditions.

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