Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Keith McCord Reporting... Residents of Monticello -- in Southeastern Utah -- are really feeling the water crunch, and city leaders have had to take some drastic measures.
This is Loyd's Lake -- the Monticello City water supply. It's never been this low so early in the year.
Trent Schafer/Monticello City Manager: "IT NORMALLY CAN HOLD ABOUT 4-THOUSAND ACRE-FEET. AND WE'RE SITTING RIGHT NOW AT A LITTLE OVER 600 ACRE-FEET."
That's only 15 percent of capacity, and the summer hasn't even started!
The lake collects water from the melting snows in the nearby mountains, but as you can see there's nothing left on the peaks. So the lake continues to shrink.
Trent Schafer/Monticello City Manager: "WE PULLED IT DOWN BELOW WHERE WE FELT COMFORTABLE LAST YEAR. AND WE DON'T WANT TO DO THAT AGAIN THIS YEAR."
With things so bad, severe watering restrictions were recently put in place. Residents couldn't water their lawns or vegetable gardens.
Last night, Monticello's City Council was faced with continuing that for the rest of the summer.
The council, though, decided to allow residents to water just two hours per week. That’s it. Or face a fine.
Monticello is an agricultural community. The arid conditions are making it very difficult for farmers and ranchers to get by. Their fields are dry, and keeping the cattle fed and watered is difficult.
Gary Halls/ Rancher: "TWO YEARS NOW, WE HAVE NO IRRIGATION WATER... WE'VE HAD TO HAUL A LOT OF WATER TO THE LIVESTOCK WHICH CAUSES A LOT OF TROUBLE AND MORE WORK."
In the meantime, Monticello continues to look for more sources of water...
Trent Schafer/Monticello City Manager: "AND WE DO HAVE A BIG WATER PROJECT THIS YEAR THAT WE'RE GOING TO GO IN AND WORK ON OUR COLLECTION SYSTEM AND TRY TO MAKE THE SPRINGS YIELD THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT THAT THEY POSSIBLY CAN."
But those improvements probably won't yield any extra water for at least a year. Until then, Monticello will hope Mother Nature will deliver.
Residents who violate the watering restrictions will get a warning for the first offense, a $50-dollar fine for the second, and $100-dollars for a third offense.