The Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency has moved ahead with an irrigation restriction plan introduced earlier this month — one that limits water users to 70 percent of their full allotment.
GWSSA board members, at a meeting on Thursday, March 15, adopted a plan that cuts water use by 30 percent by the time the irrigation season begins — i.e., when Ken’s Lake water becomes available — on April 2.
“I think it’s a wise choice to start at 30 [percent] and go from there,” GWSSA Manager Dana Van Horn said. “At least it gets people in the mindset they need to conserve.”
Van Horn described the area’s water outlook as “pathetic.” Since reporting on the snowpack and runoff outlook two weeks ago, the situation — without much by way of precipitation since then — has become worse. As of midnight on March 14, she reported, precipitation for the water year that began in October was at 49 percent of average.
Ken’s Lake is about 50 percent full, with, “water coming in real slow at the moment,” she said. That’s either because it’s all still frozen, or there just isn’t that much, she said, a hint of fear at the latter evident in her voice.
She and other board members continued to hope for more precipitation to alleviate what Board Member Gary Wilson called a “terrible subject.”
If water becomes more available than is now anticipated, restrictions could be eased. However, they could also be tightened if things end up worse than estimated, though Van Horn said she has tried to be very conservative while developing a plan.
“This will be reviewed at every meeting,” Wilson said.
Storms over the weekend helped some, but won’t alleviate the situation. Eleven inches of weekend snow in the La Sal Mountains brought the snow-water equivalent to 72 percent of normal, and the year’s precipitation to 58 percent of average as of Monday, according to Van Horn.
Just four days prior to that, those percentages were at 56 percent and 49 percent of average, respectively.
“The new snow should help the spring runoff,” Van Horn said, but won’t necessarily ease restrictions too much, if at all.
In order to facilitate even the 30-percent restriction, Van Horn estimated the agency would need to pump several hundred acre-feet of water to bolster what would be available from the reservoir. The precipitation received over the weekend, she said Monday, “may mean that we will not be required to start the pumps to supply additional water.”
She reiterated the caveat that has become something like a mantra for water agency officials: “We are watching the conditions closely and will take appropriate action.”