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Davis Journal

Bountiful tightening up its water restrictions and enforcement efforts

Oct 04, 2021 10:07AM ● By Tom Haraldsen

Only tee boxes and greens will get regular watering at Bountiful Ridge Golf Course, while the fairways will receive spot watering as necessary to retain their integrity. Photo by Tom Haraldsen

BOUNTIFUL—The city is modifying its water restrictions as fall has arrived and the irrigation service for much of the community was shut down for the year on Sept. 20. City council heard a report and recommendations from Kraig Christensen, field service specialist with the Bountiful City Water Department, at its Sept. 14 meeting.

“With Weber Basin now shut down, there can be problems with our culinary water system, as people want to use it to be sure their lawns stay green,” he told council members. “Our system was not fully designed to have inside and outside use of culinary water, so we’re looking here for something to put into place so we won’t have a trying time on our system.”

Christensen said all but one of the city’s parks uses irrigation water – the exception being North Canyon Park which uses some culinary water for its lawns. The Bountiful Ridge Golf Course uses a combination of both irrigation and culinary during the summer season. As the city adjusts to watering its properties, the golf course will limit regular watering to only tee boxes and greens, with spot watering as necessary on fairways. Mowers will also have their blades raised a bit so grass can grow a bit longer and need less water.

“We’ll make sure the course is maintained and in good condition so that we’re not looking at having to repair turf damage next year,” he said.

The council approved a water restriction plan in June to mitigate the drought conditions, but compliance has been mixed. Christensen reported that monitored water consumption in July was 103 percent of normal, but that it dropped to 91 percent in August. Those numbers were disappointing in a year when the state’s dwindling water resources have been well publicized. There were 22 “warnings” issued by the city to residents who were not in compliance with water usage restrictions, and one resident was fined $100 for a second violation.

“Residents have been by and large pretty compliant,” he said, “but there were exceptions.” He said residents have to avoid using culinary water for yards and gardens now that irrigation water has been shut off.

“My biggest concern, and one I think we need to really communicate to residents, is the cross contamination that can occur,” said councilman Richard Higginson. Christensen agreed, telling council “if residents begin to replace their untreated irrigation source with culinary water, the likely effects would not only be an increased stress on our wells, but also a higher potential for reduced water availability and possible contamination without the proper backflow prevention equipment.”

The severity of the drought is borne out of a report from Weber Basin that it’s measured runoff from past winter seasons snowfall is about 270,000 acre-feet. This year, that runoff totaled just 7 acre-feet.

Upon the recommendation of the city’s engineering and water departments, council approved modifying its earlier water restrictions for a period through April 15, 2022. For city property, that means only spot watering to prevent damage to turf or landscaping, as well as at the golf course.

Residential restrictions remain in place – as do fines and penalties for those found to violate them. City officials from the water department, engineering and code enforcement will monitor compliance. As before, violations can result in a warning for first offense to fines ranging from $100 to $1,000 for second, third, fourth and fifth offenses. There’s also an additional fine of $500 if connecting a culinary watering source to an irrigation system happens without a backflow prevention device, or placing into service a backflow prevention device that has not been tested by a certified technician and for which a report has not been submitted to the city’s water department.

Not all of Bountiful is in the Weber Basin system for irrigation water, so how these restrictions affect your properties may differ. The goal is the same for all homes, however.

“The key thing is that we need to continue to conserve water and hope for a plentiful snowpack this coming winter,” Christensen said.