Water concerns are high as winter turns to spring

After another dry winter and as the spring runoff sputters to a start, Recapture Reservoir is functionally empty. Currently holding just 27 percent of its capacity, the water level at the reservoir northeast of Blanding is at its conservation pool.
This means there will be no irrigation season for those that use Recapture.
“There is nothing coming in,” said Ferd Johnson, who manages the water in Recapture for the San Juan Water Conservancy District, “and we probably won’t get any.”
The drought that many have feared may have arrived as San Juan County has experienced drier than normal conditions for 26 of the past 36 months. Over the three year period, it has been drier than normal more than 70 percent of the time.
In addition to dry weather, the mild temperatures in recent weeks has severely curtailed a run off of water from the limited snow pack. “With the warm days and mild nights, the melting snow is just soaking into the ground,” said Johnson.
In Monticello, Public Works Director Nate Langston said that city crews are working to prepare six wells that will add water to the secondary water system.
The wells will not start pumping until the secondary water system is charged on May 1. In regular years, the system is generally charged in mid April.
Langston reports that Loyds Lake currently holds 1,100 acre-feet of water. The conservation pool is 500 acre-feet, which means the reservoir currently holds about 600 acre-feet of usable water for the city.
Langston said city residents generally use about 700 acre-feet of water a year.
Blanding City Water Manager Danny Fleming said Blanding currently has 1,400 to 1,500 acre-feet of water, which he said would be “plenty for this year.”
The City of Blanding generally uses about 750 acre-feet of water a year.
Fleming said the city is currently collecting the water right of 3.5 second-foot of water.
“The water just started. We are getting just enough to fill our water right,” said Fleming, who has been Blanding’s water manager for more than 30 years. “I bet that the water will flow for maybe three weeks. It certainly won’t be too long this year.”
With reduced supply, water managers are faced with taking steps to decrease the use of water. For many irrigators, the solution is clear: there will simply be no irrigation this year.
City water managers hope that area residents will voluntarily restrict usage in order to avoid restrictions.
“I hate restrictions,” said Langston. “I hope city residents will take proactive conservation efforts.”
In previous years, water use actually increased in some cases after watering restrictions were implemented. Water officials recall that many area residents wanted to use the entire allocated time and ended up wasting water.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
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