Secondary water use plummets in Monticello

The use of secondary water in Monticello dropped dramatically in July, the result of a combination of severe drought conditions, an increase in water rates, and a strong monsoon season.
Secondary water use for the month was less than six million gallons. In comparison, average use for the month over the previous seven years is 21 million gallons. This represents a 70 percent drop in water use.
The drop came after the Monticello City Council dramatically increased the rates charged for secondary water, with an emphasis on high volume users.
City residents had a month to make the changes and responded with a dramatic decrease in water use. The decrease was helped by a strong month of monsoon rains. A total of 2.7 inches of precipitation fell during the month in Monticello.
Nathan Langston, the Public Works Director for Monticello, said that many city residents had no idea how much water they were using. He said that they made a number of changes in watering patterns which led to the decrease in use.
“This decrease allows us to catch our breath,” said Langston. “We still have 1,000 acre-feet of water in Loyds Lake, so we are ok this year.”
Langston adds that the area will still need a strong winter to replenish the depleted reservoirs.
Despite the decrease in water use, many lawns and gardens in the community retain a mostly green hue.
A number of city residents are responding to the drought conditions by implementing xeriscape landscaping, which requires less water.
Langston reports the number of high volume users plummeted in July. He reports that while “three or four” residents used a large volume of water, the vast majority of residents significantly cut their water use.
Langston said that the three or four residents face a high secondary water bill for the month in excess of $1,000.
The area remains in the throes of a long-term drought after an almost snow-free winter which severely impacted the water level in reservoirs. Despite the obvious drought conditions, Monticello residents used a large amount of secondary water in May. The 11.75 million gallons used in May was higher than the multi-year average.
This use prompted the city to increase the secondary water rates. While the rates remained steady for those who used 10,000 gallons or less per month, they dramatically increased the rates for high volume users.
The city had a two-page list of residents who used more than 40,000 gallons of water in May. The top user consumed almost 100,000 gallons of water. The new rates would have meant a monthly water bill in excess of $4,500 for the highest user.
While residential water use dropped, commercial users also decreased their water use. Langston reports that churches, public buildings, parks and the golf course also made significant cuts.
The Hideout Golf Course, which is owned by the City of Monticello, used 4.9 million gallons of water in July. This is 46 percent of the multi-year average for the month of July and 34 percent of the recommended use for a course of that size.
The Hideout irrigates approximately 100 acres of turf. Through July, the course has used 29.45 million gallons of water in 2018.
The city reports that average annual water use for the Hideout has been 58 million gallons.
In contrast, the average golf course of this size in the Upper Mountain West area uses 98 million gallons of water per year and the average course in the Southwest U.S. uses 150 million gallons of water per year.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

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