ST. GEORGE – The St. George City Council, by unanimous vote, initiated Stage I of its drought management plan, which places a mandatory restriction on the hours residents can water their lawns and gardens.
René Fleming, the city’s water conservation coordinator, asked the city council to initiate “Stage I” of the city’s drought management plan due to a water deficit triggered by a dry winter: “We’ve had a low-water year,” she said.
According to information released by the Washington County Water Conservancy District in March, annual snow pack was down 21 percent across the state. Areas that supply the Virgin River were down 25 percent. The Sand Hollow and Quail Creek Reservoirs have also been recorded at 80 and 60 percent capacity, respectively. Neither reservoir is expected to reach full capacity this year.
Restrictions associated with Stage I of the drought management plan are voluntary, with the exception of the mandatory cap on watering lawns and gardens between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Fleming said the most water is lost during the hot days due to evaporation. The best time to water is in the early morning, preferably before 4 a.m.
If a resident is found watering their lawn during the restricted hours, the individual will not be fined, Fleming said, but the resident will be provided ways in which to best conserve water.
“We’d rather educate than penalize,” Fleming said.
The city council voted unanimously to implement the Stage I restrictions, effective today. Thus far, notices have been given over media, social media and will be included in upcoming utility bills.
“Most people will comply,” Fleming said.
The stage I water restrictions primarily deal with culinary water use, she said, and that the restrictions affect all of the city’s costumers, be they residential or commercial-based.
Places like Dixie State University and city golf courses don’t use culinary water, she said, but rather use irrigation water for watering needs. Irrigation water is different from culinary water in that it usually has a much higher content of dissolved minerals and doesn’t meet state and federal standards for drinking water.
Fleming indicated irrigation water will still be allowed to be used to an extent during the restricted hours placed on culinary water use.
Tips on how to scale back culinary water use indoors and outdoors starts on page two of the city’s drought management plan.
Future notifications on water restrictions, as well as tips on how to conserve water, can be found on the City of St. George Water Services Department Facebook page.
The City of St. George Water Services Department can also be contacted at 435-674-4213.
Ed. Note: This story was updated June 8, 2013.
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