Weber County cities enact water-saving steps ‘to lead by example’
SOUTH OGDEN — Kids used to splashing away the summer might have to search out drier pursuits.
In a bid to conserve water, the cities of Roy, South Ogden and Riverdale have closed their splash pads for the summer. The larger public swimming pools in Weber County — Lorin Farr Pool in Ogden, the North Shore Aquatic Center in North Ogden and the Aquatic Center in Roy — will still be open.
“Sorry about that. Not what we wanted to do, but what we feel like we have to do,” South Ogden Mayor Russ Porter said in a video message this week, referencing plans to keep the water off at the splash pad at Nature Park.
Splash pads are play structures that feature water elements that get users wet. The closures in Roy, South Ogden and Riverdale are among a range of measures cities are taking as the drought gripping Utah and much of the Southwest lingers on, paralleling calls to the public to scale back lawn watering and more.
“We really need to lead by example,” said Roy Mayor Bob Dandoy. It’d be unfair, he went on, to ask residents to scale back their lawn watering — one of the key conservation measures being asked of the public across Utah — “and Roy City just stays normal in everything we do.”
Also in a bid to conserve water, Roy officials will scale back watering of certain city-owned green spaces, said Travis Flint, parks and recreation director for Roy. The issue, he noted, was the focus of a discussion with the Roy City Council and other leaders earlier this month.
“We agreed that we would keep the grass alive, but not thriving. We told them it would not look good,” Flint said. City employees “want to provide lush grass everywhere. We just feel, in these times, that is not responsible.”
Similarly, Mark Johnson, chief administrative officer for the City of Ogden, said city parks, generally speaking, won’t be watered as much as is normal, same as in North Ogden, according to Jon Call, the city attorney there.
The tee boxes and putting greens at Ogden’s city-owned golf course will get doses of water because they’d be so costly to replace if they wither away.
“Other than that, we’re going to follow the water restrictions we’ve asked the residents to follow,” Johnson said. Expect browning of the grass at parks, he warned, as is likely at many yards given watering restrictions.
Among the restrictions imposed by the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District are limits on watering of lawns to just one day a week for unmetered customers. They may water for a maximum of 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type of sprinkler used.
The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and Pineview Water Systems are two of the biggest suppliers of secondary water used for lawn watering and both entities are imposing restrictions. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District warns that violations of the rules could lead to monetary fines.
The City of Ogden on May 4 declared a severe water shortage, limiting watering by city residents to two days a week for a maximum of 20 to 40 minutes each time. Watering is prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and residents are asked to hold off on irrigating grass until it “shows visible signs of stress.”
Beyond watering, two fountains featuring “Roy” signage that welcome motorists to the city will remain dry this summer, Dandoy said. One sits off the road where Riverdale Road and 1900 West converge, the other is located on the north side of 5600 South near the Interstate 15 interchange.
Likewise, Johnson said city fountains at Union Station in the city center and outside the Ogden Municipal Building will remain dry this summer.
Leaks, though, are a major water-waster, Johnson said, and Call, the North Ogden city attorney, said a part-time employee in the city is focused, in part, on uncovering breaks in the water system there.
How much the conservation measures save remains to be seen. The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District’s drought plan calls for a 60% dip in use of water for lawn irrigation and a 10% dip in use of indoor culinary water.
The splash pad in Roy “is designed to use between 25,000 to 30,000 gallons of water a day,” Flint said. “It is activated by pushing a button by patrons, so depending on how often it is pushed determines the exact amount of water.”
Dandoy and Johnson said the decisions to keep the Roy and Ogden swimming pools open stemmed from a desire to give kids and others a place to go to beat the heat as the temperatures heat up.
At the same time, Roy officials plan to maintain the turf on certain athletic fields to minimize the potential risk of injury to users if the grass is allowed to brown and deteriorate too much, exposing bare ground.