Utah: Water Rationing Forecast for Sandy

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Water Rationing Forecast for Sandy Friday, March 9, 2001 BY MARK EDDINGTON THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

SANDY -- Water in Utah's fourth largest city probably will be rationed this summer unless spring rains and snows bring drought relief to the Wasatch Front. "We're in the third year of a drought cycle in Salt Lake Valley," Sandy Mayor Tom Dolan said Thursday. "Our snowpack is about 55 percent of normal. So the entire valley may see some rationing unless we get a lot more moisture." In addition, Sandy residents will have to pay more for water starting May 1, when the conservation rates the City Council adopted in December take effect. Unless residents cut back on water use, their annual bills could increase by about $40 next year and by another $60 the following year if the council hikes rates again in May 2002, as planned. Once the second increase kicks in, the average homeowner can expect to pay about $400 a year for water compared with $300 now. That will add about $10 to monthly bills. Sandy officials insist the rate hikes are needed to prod consumers to conserve what is becoming an increasingly precious commodity. "The underlying philosophy is that the more expensive a product or service is, the less likely people are to purchase or use an abundance of it," said Sandy spokesman Chris Hillman. An Envision Utah study shows the state's per capita consumption of water is 33 percent higher than the average in other Western states. Yet Utahns' water rates are half the national average and less than two-thirds the Western states' average. Studies further show residents account for 67 percent of water consumption in Utah, two-thirds of that is for lawns. Moreover, nearly 30 percent of water used for irrigation goes onto sidewalks, driveways and storm drains. The January 2000 study's conclusion: The Wasatch Front water supply will dry up by 2025 without the development of more water sources and stepped-up conservation. Sandy's purchases of wholesale water from the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake City will total $60 million during the next two decades. And that sum does not include the city's costs for improving its own water system. Sandy also has to cough up about $60 million for a planned Metropolitan Water treatment plant at Point of the Mountain. "If we don't start conserving water, our share [of the plant cost] could be as high as $85 million to $90 million," Dolan said. Not every community, however, faces Sandy's predicament. White City, an unincorporated area within Sandy's borders, has all the water it needs. Most of its water supply comes from deep wells. "We're not reliant on surface water runoff from snowpack," said Paulina Flint, district water board chairwoman. "So we won't have to ration water." White City residents' water consumption rate is among the state's lowest. Flint said the district is on track to meet its infrastructure requirements without resorting to rate hikes or rationing. e-mail: meddington@sltrib.com


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 09, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ