Harrisville declares drought emergency, other cities debate new water rules
Sprinklers run in a field along Pleasant View Drive in Pleasant View on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
Sprinklers water the grass outside KFC on 12th Street in Ogden on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
A sprinkler waters the grass outside KFC on 12th Street in Ogden on Wednesday, June 9, 2021.
HARRISVILLE — As the state and Weber County contend with the ongoing drought, calls to the public in some locales to start watching water consumption are spreading.
Harrisville Mayor Michelle Tait, for one, issued a proclamation on Wednesday declaring a local emergency in the city due to the drought and limiting when residents may water their lawns. Violating the water rules would be regarded as an infraction, according to Bill Morris, the Harrisville city attorney.
Harrisville officials don’t plan to police water use. If issues related to water use emerge, though, city officials may reexamine the issue.
“Right now, it’s making sure everyone’s attentive and doing the best for the whole community,” Tait said. Most people in Harrisville understand the importance of conserving water, she said, and are “trying to do their part.”
Tait’s proclamation, declaring a local emergency due to the drought, states that homeowners and businesses with odd-numbered addresses may only water on odd-numbered days. Those with addresses ending in even numbers may only water on even-numbered days. It largely prohibits watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and also scales back the hours of the Splash Pad, the city’s water park, once it opens on July 1. It will operate Tuesday through Saturday between noon and 7 p.m., not Monday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., the typical hours.
Other Weber County communities are also starting to respond to the issue, though the measures are far from draconian.
As in Harrisville, the city of Marriott-Slaterville is asking residents to limit lawn watering to every other day, those with odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered days and those with even-numbered addresses on even-numbered days. The city isn’t threatening to issue citations, though, according to Morris, also the city attorney in that city.
The Roy City Council passed a measure last week calling on residents to follow Roy Water Conservancy District and Weber Basin Water Conservancy District guidelines on use of irrigation water. The two districts prohibit watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. as a means of water conservation. Some Roy residents don’t get irrigation water from either district and instead water their lawns and gardens using their culinary water, but Roy officials don’t have authority to restrict use of that resource.
The Roy measure is “encouraging without the punitive element that we may end up having to move toward at some point,” said Roy Mayor Bob Dandoy. That is, officials may at some point consider creation of an ordinance giving them authority to issue fines if Roy residents use culinary water to water their lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Ogden’s ordinances, Dandoy said, give officials there such authority.
Secondary water, the water provided by irrigation districts, isn’t potable and is meant only for lawns and gardens. Culinary water, typically governed by municipalities, is the treated tap water that’s safe to drink.
West Haven City Manager Matt Jensen said officials there have taken a step back from the lawn-watering issue because water district rules, not city ordinances, govern use of the secondary water used to keep grass green. “We don’t have any regulatory control over the water. We don’t want to step outside of jurisdictional boundaries, really,” he said.
The issue came up at Tuesday’s meeting of the North Ogden City Council. But though the city has scaled back watering of grass at municipal facilities and has encouraged residents to do the same, things remain in the discussion phase.
“Last night, the council talked about conservation efforts in general and are planning on having another discussion in the coming month or so to help solidify some plans. They don’t really have any specific details yet, just some general goals of conserving water where we can,” said Jon Call, the North Ogden city attorney.
He echoed Dandoy and Jensen in saying the city has limited authority in the matter. “The city would only impose penalties on the culinary water since that is all we control. And the council hasn’t decided if they will impose any penalties or what those even might look like,” Call said.