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Davis Journal

Water supply outlook better than past three years

May 12, 2023 11:07AM ● By Cindi Mansell

The current water situation has improved greatly from last year’s extreme drought measures.

The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District recently held its Annual Customer Agency Meeting. Weber Basin offers wholesale pricing of drinking and irrigation water to a variety of customers across the northern Wasatch front and back. Their customers range from large cities and improvement districts to small irrigation companies and industrial users near the Great Salt Lake. 

In Davis County those drinking water customers include Bountiful, Centerville, Clinton, Clearfield, Farmington, Fruit Heights, Kaysville, Layton, Sunset, West Bountiful City, West Point City, Woods Cross, and Syracuse. Secondary water customers include Benchland Water District, Bountiful Irrigation District, Centerville Deuel Creek Irrigation, Davis and Weber Canal Company, Haight’s Creek Irrigation, Kayscreek Irrigation, Kaysville Irrigation and Layton Canal Irrigation. 

Assistant General Manager Darren Hess discussed the water supply outlook, stating it is better this year than the past three years with the unbelievable record-setting snowpack. He said there is three times more snowpack than that of last year at this same time and discussed soil moisture and runoff forecasts. Hess said the drought monitor is still moderate and they will reconfigure that after runoff is in reservoirs this spring. 

Hess discussed population increases and growth projections, stating conservation efforts are more important than ever. He said SB 89 passed this year in the legislature requires adoption of goals for water conservation, adoption of a water conservation plan, and review of rate structures. He discussed secondary water metering and policy, as well as education and incentives (such as the Flip-your-Strip Program). 

Hess said over the last year, the district has worked with communities to adopt specific water efficiency standards within their ordinances to offer these types of programs and will continue until April 15, 2024. He said after that, the district has been in conversation with the state regarding additional turf removal incentive programs and utilization of state funding. He said future eligibility programs will include the following strict requirements: no more than 35% of the front and side yard landscaped area in new residential development being lawn; and restricting the placement of lawn in parking strips and in areas with widths of less than eight feet. 

Hess said meeting the needs of their customer agencies requires around-the-clock attention from dedicated staff that maintain infrastructure, operate treatment plants, design facilities and plan. This requires “blocks” of water to be developed that are subsequently made available for customer agency use through the execution of water contracts. The District’s recent developed block of water, District III, has now been fully contracted. The District is currently developing its next block, District IV, which is the only water now available for contract. He discussed the District IV Water Program that includes 10,000-acre feet of water where each block pays for the infrastructure required to develop and deliver water supply. Hess discussed impact fees and capital charge as being an option for wholesale customer agency that will assess an impact fee on their residents to pay a lower annual rate.

General Manager Scott Paxman discussed conservation standards, the future of water development and the District Supply and Demand Study update. Help is needed to collect and verify historical demand for supply data and project future demands and identify supply capacity. Weber Basin Water will be sending out a data gathering questionnaire/workbook to the largest 100 potable and secondary water providers. He also discussed major projects in the works, including: UDOT projects requiring relocation of facilities; Willard Canal lining project; Parallel Aqueduct Project; Weber West Transmission Pipeline; piloting for a new Water Treatment Plant; new culinary water storage tanks; and culinary pumping plants.

Paxman discussed legislation affecting water and said required enforcement is an unfunded mandate being referred to entities who have land use and enforcement authority. He said entities will be penalized for connections not metered after 2030. He said they planned to charge systems beginning April 25 and irrigation start dates would be May 1. Restrictions will remain in place to continue vigilance; including recommended watering once per week in the spring; two-three times midsummer (depending on heat); two times a week in August and September and then back to one time during October until shutoff. 

Paxman thanked those in attendance for their time, energies, and attention to water conservation efforts. He explained this meeting is typically scheduled early in April to give the most up to date and accurate information possible and to have a clearer understanding of this year’s water supply. He said they hoped to enable more extensive incentive programs to the communities and make use of state monies for service areas. He encouraged users to reach out to the district for further information or discussion. 

Paxman said the district continues to work toward its mission to conserve and develop water resources to provide for the needs of its customer agencies, use the water resources of the Weber and Ogden drainages responsibly for the greatest benefit to the public, supply high-quality drinking water, and project the watersheds of our source rivers and groundwater supplies. He expressed appreciation for the continued support of the entities involved. λ