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Ogden announces restrictions on water, fire, fireworks; violators will face punitive measures

By Mitch Shaw Standard-Examiner - | Jun 4, 2021
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Drought-tolerant plants are featured at a conservation learning garden at the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District in east Layton on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

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The U.S. drought map as of Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Dark red areas signify exceptional drought, the worst rating.

OGDEN — As extreme drought conditions show little chance of improving in the near term, Ogden City is implementing early and strict restrictions on fireworks and open flames and will begin to fine residents for wasteful water use.

A letter issued by Ogden Fire Marshal Kevin Brown says the city is banning the use of all fireworks, matches or other ignition sources in the following locations: all areas east of Harrison Boulevard; all wooded areas along the Ogden and Weber River parkways, including all associated parks there; all of Fort Buenaventura, the city baseball park and dog park area, located off A Avenue; the old landfill at approximately 2550 A Ave., near the fort; and all open fields, vacant lots, wooded areas, and brush-covered hillsides throughout the city.

A violation of the notice, according to Brown’s letter, could result in a class B misdemeanor. Residents can report fires and fireworks to the Weber Area Consolidated Dispatch Center at 801-629-8221.

Brown said the ban is in effect now and, unless environmental conditions change significantly, won’t be lifted until Sept. 20. He said an abnormally dry winter and spring has created an earlier than normal fire danger. Conditions present a significant hazard to property and public safety in the event of a fire in mountainous, brush or dry grass covered areas in the city. Similar restrictions by Ogden City didn’t go into effect until mid-June last year and not until July 4 in 2019.

Meanwhile, the city has also issued a “declaration of moderate water shortage,” which is effective through Oct. 15, or until further notice.

The city says Ogden’s primary water source, Pineview Reservoir, has only filled to 56% of capacity. Subsequently, provisions of Ogden’s Water Shortage Management Plan are in force, which means all outdoor watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. The city says violating that order could result in fines of $50 for the first violation, going up from there after repeated infractions.

The declaration says that all residential water customers of the city are encouraged to reduce their water use by at least 5%, and commercial water customers are encouraged to reduce their water use by at least 15%. The city encourages residents to maintain and properly adjust their irrigation systems to avoid wasting water and to adjust watering times based on weather.

Ogden City’s water manager, Brady Herd, said lawn irrigation is the largest culprit of water waste.

“Overwatering, broken sprinklers and excessive overspray can result in thousands of gallons down the drain,” Herd said. “We encourage our residents to call us to get a free sprinkler checkup. We will show them ways to save water while maintaining a healthy lawn.”

Questions from residents should be directed to the Ogden City water conservation coordinator at 801-629-8329.

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, 100% of Weber County is in a “severe drought,” the third most significant drought classification under the NIDIS monitoring system. NIDIS says 65% of the county is in the “extreme drought” phase, the second most significant classification. According to the NIDIS, all of the following can be present during an extreme drought: pasture and water is inadequate for cattle, air quality is poor, dust is a problem, vegetation is stressed and fire danger increases dramatically.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency due to drought conditions on March 17.

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