Short Creek implements water use restrictions for conservation as demands exceed supply

Unsplash, St. George News

HILDALE — For the first time in many years, the Hildale-Colorado City Utility Department’s culinary water system is implementing water conservation guidelines and water use restrictions due to a sustained water demand that exceeds supply capacity for the first time in many years.

Graph compares the difference in water use from 2019 to 2020 in Hildale and Colorado City, Utah, where the blue line represents 2019 and the orange line represents 2020, location and date unspecified | Illustration courtesy of Harrison Johnson, St. George News

In a statement issued by the utility department, Director Harrison Johnson said compared to this time a year ago, they’ve been seeing a monthly increase of 74% in water demand. Increased usage appears to be coming from residential customers as opposed to commercial or industrial, and with an annual customer turnover of 16% to 21%, uncertainty remains how usage patterns may change in the coming years.

Harrison told St. George News that beginning in May, they saw a precipitous increase that appears to be sustained.

“We’ve had increases in demand before, but this seems to just continue on, and in some cases, greatly exceed our capacity to supply water,” he said.

The decision for water restrictions is based on factors that include water demand, forecasted precipitation and weather and daily supply recharge. The only mandatory restriction is no outside spray irrigation between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., and residents are urged to monitor their water use and irrigate responsibly.

The Hildale-Colorado City utility customer uses more water per connection than the state average, Harrison said. According to their Water Master Plan, the average connection in Hildale and Colorado City uses 1,079 gallons per day as opposed to the state average of 575. The reason for this increased use could be related to larger family and lot sizes, he said, but he wasn’t absolutely sure.

Hildale, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“Our efforts will be focused on conservation education for the community and working with our local partners instead of strict enforcement,” he said. “The department is confident with the help of our community, we can all be good stewards of resources we all share.”

Looking toward the future and expected economic development, the utility department has been investigating other resources for water use, such as Water Canyon, in which there are a few options. One of them is the Navajo Sandstone aquifer, which would not require drilling a vertical well or pumping. Rather, it would be drilled horizontally, he said. Water treatment would not be necessary.

“The water’s so high quality that it doesn’t require any treatment, but the longevity of that source is still up in the air. The engineers were unable to determine how long that source would be viable.”

The other source they are looking into would be from the Kayenta and Moenave formations, which would require pumping. Treatment needs of this source wouldn’t be known until drilling a well, he said.

While this exploration and development for water resources remains a key focus for the department, it will still be some time before a new resource is implemented into the culinary system.

“We estimate anywhere from two to five years,” he said.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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