FARMINGTON — Severe watering restrictions in the heart of this tree-lined community are prompting threats of lawsuits and angry calls to irrigation district managers.

They remain firm, however, and say unless people allow their lawns to go brown, the water supply will dry up by Sept. 1.

“I can’t imagine if we have no water come Sept. 1,” said Paul Hirst, a member or the board of trustees of the Benchland Irrigation Water District.

“There goes Tree City Utah,” Hirst said.

Farmington is known for its stately rows of towering sycamores that line Main Street, earning it a coveted designation from the Arbor Day Foundation.

But Hirst said those trees and others in the community are at risk unless people adhere to strict new rules on when and what to water, including new sod or other plantings.

“There is many, many thousands of dollars in these trees in this community but they don’t have the resilience that sod does. The lawns can go brown.”

Hard restrictions that impose fines or a shutoff of water for violators include:

• No weekend watering from 8 a.m. Saturdays to 8 a.m. Mondays

• No weekday watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

• Cutback use by 35 percent

• No new sod or other plantings

Hirst said the district is serious about violators: first time offenders get a $50 fine, second-time offenders are fined $250 and a third offense means shut-off from any water.

“We are serious. We will have people to patrol 24/7,” he said.

Benchland Irrigation District water users are in a unique situation compared to surrounding districts.

“This is unprecedented in what we are having to do with these severe restrictions,” he said.

The reason?

The district relies on 60 percent of its water supply from the runoff of four mountain creeks: Davis, Shepard, Steed and Farmington.

This year’s pitiful snowpack delivered only 20 percent of what it normally gets.

Scott Parsell, the district’s general manager, said stream flows this May that should have lasted weeks peaked within a couple of days.

So instead of that source of water dwindling around June 25 due to runoff, it dried up to a drizzle a month earlier, he said.

“People want to know why we didn’t start to conserve earlier, but it has never happened since I worked here,” he said.

Parsell has been with the district more than 35 years.

The district was forced to tap into its secondary source of irrigation water provided by Weber Basin Water Conservancy District months earlier than planned.

“This …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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Historic trees at risk of drying up in Farmington

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