Centerfield makes plan to conserve water

CENTERFIELD—Facing critically low water levels, the Centerfield City Council prepared plans to conserve water at their last meeting.

Possible measures included shutting down the secondary water system for periods of time and imposing an emergency water rate on culinary water.

 As the amount of water in the city’s secondary water pond remains small, the council decided to shut down the secondary water system on Thursday, June 17, in hopes that there will be enough water to turn it back on Tuesday, June 22. Normally, turning the secondary water system off and on is a solution to problems the city doesn’t face until late August, City Recorder Lacey Belnap said.

But Councilman David Beck said that when he last visited the pond, the water level had dropped from about 40 feet to about 28 feet.

The water rates of deliveries made by Gunnison Irrigation Company to the pond are falling as the drought rages on. But the council hopes this first, temporary irrigation water shutdown of the season will lead to 10 days of flowing secondary water before the next one. The unpredictability of if and when water will come from the mountain makes it difficult for the council to plan when these shutdowns might occur.

Though the council discussed simply telling residents not to use secondary water for a few days, there were concerns about things like automatic sprinklers in people’s yards and the occasional noncompliance.    

“You’re not going to have the Garden of Eden in your yard this year,” Maintenance Supervisor Stewart Jensen said at the meeting. 

The council has spent multiple meetings discussing what to do in the event the city’s culinary water reaches critical levels. The main course of action is to implement the emergency water rate scale, which would charge residents $5 per every 1,000 gallons of water used beyond the 6,000 gallon monthly allowance under the city’s base rate.     

Jensen said the city’s water levels are not yet to the point where the rate is necessary. And a few councilmembers raised concerns about negative effects the rate could have on local businesses.

Specifically, the rate could have massive impacts on the Skyview Landscape Nursery, which used 95,000 gallons of water last month or Keith Jensen’s feed lot, which used 527,000 gallons last month.

Reluctant to enact the rate, Councilman Jaden Sorenson suggested encouraging certain water practices, such as only watering trees and gardens or not watering between certain hours of the day. 

“Let’s make sure there’s a serious problem before we take serious action,” Beck said. 

Jensen said that residents’ efforts to conserve water will determine the likelihood of reaching critical levels and resorting to the emergency rate. 

For now, the council has opted to wait to enact any emergency plans regarding culinary water until they are absolutely necessary. Mayor Tom Sorensen said that if the levels become critically low, the council can have an emergency meeting to enact the order.

As long as the city is maintaining water levels, Mayor Sorensen said, they should keep going as is. “If we need to enact something, we will.”