For customers in Farmington served by the Benchland Water District, it’s time to say goodbye to that lush lawn adorning your home that you spend hours watering each day, as keeping the grass green this summer could become very costly.
The water district last week ordered strict watering provisions for its customers in response to this past winter’s lower-than-expected snowpack. The hot summer the region is experiencing so far combined with lower mountain stream levels has brought available water supplies to a point that has caused the district to act.
Benchland provides untreated water for outdoor use, not treated water such as what comes out of the tap in your home. About 30 million gallons of untreated water flow each day to help keep the region green.
According to the district, the watering restrictions will work as follows for the remainder of the summer:
-- customers cannot water over the weekends, starting at 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. on Monday;
-- there also will be no watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.
The restrictions are no trivial matter; violators will be fined $50 for the first watering offense, $250 for the second and then, for a third offense, have all secondary water shut off.
Water patrols have not yet taken place, said Paul Hirst, Benchland Irrigation Water District trustee, but results already are being seen.
“I call it a ‘soft start.’ We did not have people out this weekend patrolling for violators,” he told our reporter. “We used half as much water over the weekend than we have previous weekends. So it worked ... we hope to achieve even more conservation in the coming weekends.”
That’s a good start, as without the conservation plan, the district reported it would have been out of water midway through September. The mountain streams feeding the district typically provide 60 percent of the district’s water; this year, that figure is 20 percent.
The only other option besides conservation would have been to purchase more water from Weber Basin, which Hirst said would quickly have gotten expensive for customers. That also could have placed additional strain on resources for the Weber Basin.
Hirst believes it’s time for area residents to understand that keeping the grass green comes at more of a cost than just what you pay out of the family budget. “We need to have a different mindset. We think green is beautiful and it is … but you don’t have to have a green lawn, especially when times are lean like this.”
There no mistaking that temperatures have been rising and the winters have seen less snowfall in previous years. No matter what you believe is causing climate change, situations such as this show the impact it is having on our region.
Other water districts such as Weber Basin aren’t currently prepared to impose any restrictions, but there is concern for the future. “It makes us nervous when we have such a horrible runoff season,” Weber Basin Assistant General Manager Scott Paxman said. “I think it’s gradually getting worse. It seems to be getting warmer and drier on the average.”
Indeed. Do your part this summer by being judicious in your water use, and if you can, plan on attending Utah State University Extension Center’s class for Benchland customers on maintaining landscapes during drought, set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, July 16, and Wednesday, July 18, at the USU Botanical Center in Kaysville.