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Water conservation a trickle-down effort in Provo

While Provo is not in severe water restrictions, the city’s administration is asking residents to reeducate themselves on water resources and conservation.

“With Utah under a drought order, Provo City goes back to ‘elementary school’ for an education campaign explaining its water sources and how they are being protected for the future,” said Nicole Martin, community information officer.

Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and her staff are ramping up how they reach residents with what they hope will help conserve Provo’s precious resource.

“Provo citizens want to know what Utah’s drought order means for them. We are expecting and asking Provo City residents to use water wisely this year, and every year for that matter,” Kaufusi said. “Provo City staff has worked hard to ensure sufficient water for our citizens this summer and throughout the year — and there is sufficient water as long as residents will use it wisely.

“Provo’s forward-looking water management plan is designed to provide for our ongoing city needs — even during drought conditions,” Kaufusi added.

As a city, the administration is issuing common-sense water recommendations, rather than mandates, knowing the latter often create the largest water consumption with citizens essentially declaring a “run on the bank” demanding their allotment, whether needed or not, Kaufusi said.

Provo citizens are encouraged to manage their water use carefully and responsibly with the following recommendations:

  • Water no more than three days each week.
  • Maintain at least 48 hours between watering cycles, with garden areas an exception.
  • Avoid outdoor watering during daytime hours, especially between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“Water management can be complex because most people focus only on surface water they can actually see, such as rivers and reservoirs. Ground water, while not visible, is a far more abundant source of fresh water,” said Dave Decker, Provo City Public Works director.

“Our citizens might be surprised to learn 90 percent of Provo’s water is generated from ground water sources,” Decker added.

According to city information, the average single-family home uses 250,000 gallons of water annually. To save on water, residents are encouraged to fix leaks, avoid daytime watering, don’t water concrete and adjust watering for inclement weather.

“With Provo’s unique water story largely taking place underground, it became important to start with the basics of the ‘Water Cycle’ we learned in elementary school,” said Martin.

The ground water cycle is simply illustrated as rivers and streams discharging into lakes where the water evaporates and then falls as moisture over the mountains. The water then returns to rivers or man-made reservoirs in the mountains, eventually making it back to lakes, where the cycle begins again.

“What is largely ignored are the lower parts of the water cycle where infiltration and percolation into the ground water aquifer occur. Over the past three years, Provo City has been proactively testing several sites where the groundwater aquifer can be recharged through infiltration and percolation, a process known as Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR),” Decker said. “In contrast to creating a ‘run on the bank,’ ASR has been likened to ‘depositing money in the bank.’”

Decker said ground water aquifer levels have diminished an average of 30 feet over the last 50 years in Provo.

“While this may not seem like a lot, the rate of decline is increasing and now is the right time to intervene. Areas in the western U.S., where they have ignored declining ground water levels, eventually lose this as a source of water and may experience other consequences.”

Provo City is actively managing surface and water sources together for a holistic approach, Decker added.

“While surface water management, and even importing water from outside the Utah County basin, is important in the long term, better overall holistic water management within the county may be more important,” Decker said.

In addition to active ASR projects, such as those in Provo, Decker also encourages using innovation to eliminate water loss from our most egregious waste sources, including Utah Lake.

“Given the shallow nature of the lake and very large surface area, the State Engineer’s office estimated between 100,000 and 250,000 acre feet of water is lost to evaporation each year.”

Eliminating even the lowest estimated water evaporation loss of 100,000 acre feet from Utah Lake would provide sufficient water for the indoor and outdoor water use of 500,000 people.

Provo currently has seven water projects under construction, 15 wells, 11 water tanks and 403 miles of water mains. Provo’s average daily consumption is 25 million gallons.

Provo Parks and Recreation has long utilized water conservative management practices even before these recent drought conditions. Park irrigation is controlled through WeatherTrack, a centralized control system that allows city grounds managers to quickly make global adjustments to irrigation schedules, run times and maximize rainfall events.

Water conservative landscaping is used at facilities that prioritizes irrigation in highly used areas, and minimizes water in other areas where it is not necessary. Drip irrigation and other water efficient landscaping techniques also are a key design element that will be featured on the grounds surrounding the new City Hall building, according to city information.

Other water conservative practices include the Timpanogos Golf Course, a Provo City facility that irrigates all fairways and greens with secondary water sources, including secondary effluent water that is discharged directly from Provo’s Wastewater Treatment plant.

This use of reclaimed sources saves millions of gallons of treated water each year that can then be redirected to residences and business within Provo, according to Martin.

Even Provo City aquatic facilities are designed to conserve water, with screening and filtration systems that recirculate water from splash pads and swimming pools to treatment tanks and then back to the aquatic features.

“Parks and Recreation will continue to monitor grounds carefully and observe the irrigation guidelines recommended by Kaufusi as we work together to protect and conserve our limited water resources in Provo,” said Scott Henderson, Parks and Recreation director.

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Springville Art City Days offers carnival rides, funnel cakes

Utah County residents kicked off the summer on Friday at the Springville Art City Days carnival, which featured funhouses, carnival food and other summer attractions.

Music Express. Freak Out. The Zipper. The Sizzler. These are among the carnival rides offered at the annual Art City Days, which began on June 5 and wraps up on Saturday night.

Masks were recommended but not required at this year’s carnival, and most residents seemed happy to get out and enjoy the summer celebration, which was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Young kids laughed and smiled as they moved in circles on a motorcycle-themed merry-go-round, while others screamed and clenched their fists as they rode a piece of carpet down the Super Slide.

Older kids zig-zagged through a mirror-filled funhouse named Mardi Gras and painted to resemble a New Orleans storefront.

Meanwhile, older carnival attendees (including this sweet-toothed reporter) frequented the concessions stand, which sold funnel cake, churros, chocolate-dipped marshmallow sticks and other “fair food” essentials.

Just north of the carnival was the Food Vendors and Craft Boutique, another part of Art City Days where local vendors sold art prints, jewelry and clothing.

The summer carnival, which was put on by Browns Amusements and held at the Civic Center Park in downtown Springville, will open at noon on Saturday, the last day of Art City Days, and close at 10:30 p.m.

Art City Days events that took place earlier this week include the Hometown Rodeo, Eye Spy Photo Hunt, Medallion Treasure Hunt, Senior Art Show, Library Book Sale, Battle of the Bands and 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

A number of events will take place on Saturday, including the Grand Parade at 10 a.m., the Car Show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Motorcycle Show and Events from noon to 4 p.m., the Duct Tape Regatta at 1:30 p.m., a free ABBA tribute concert at 8 p.m. and a fireworks show at 10 p.m.

For more information about this year’s Springville Art City Days, visit http://www.springville.org/art-city-days or text “artcity” to 801-874-6627.

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Henderson touches on drought, fire season, worries of COVID-19 variants

During a COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson touched on topics that included the current drought in Utah, the ongoing wildfire season, and COVID-19 cases, vaccinations and the possibility of variants due to people being unvaccinated.

Henderson started by addressing drought concerns, adding that Utah is currently facing one of the worst droughts in its history. While most of the state is a desert, she spoke to watering lawns less and conserving water.

“This drought we are experiencing this year is extremely severe, and it’s going to require us to communicate with you more about it, it’s going to require every single one of us to take action, and do our part to mitigate its terrible effects,” Henderson said. “This is one of those years that we are going to have to really be concerned about drought.”

State facilities are currently limiting the running of sprinklers, and Henderson joked that yellow is the new green.

Along with the drought, wildfire season is in full swing and with temperatures set to rise over the next week, Henderson urged Utahns to be cautious while recreating outdoors or towing vehicles.

Moving on to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henderson began to touch on some data points while urging people, businesses, organizations and more to push for vaccinations.

She said that since late March, when the COVID-19 vaccine opened for everyone aged 16 and over, there have been 22,767 total COVID-19 cases. Of those cases, 99.6% have been in unvaccinated people. Of the 1,208 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, 95% were in those unvaccinated, and of the 64 deaths, 97% have been in those that are unvaccinated.

“It should be very obvious to everyone that vaccines are working to prevent most cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” Henderson said. “Now even though the pace of vaccinations has slowed to the point that we really aren’t ordering new doses right now from the federal government, we continue to make progress although it is not as quick as we would like it to be.”

Adding that because of vaccinations people can begin to return to community gatherings and Jazz games, Henderson said that people can spend an extra 20 minutes at a pharmacy or Walmart to receive the vaccination.

Dr. Michelle Hofman, deputy director for the Utah Department of Health, noted a slight increase in COVID-19 cases right now with one reason possibly being the Memorial Day holiday. This is a result of unvaccinated people not wearing masks, and Hofman said it serves as a reminder that COVID-19 is still in Utah’s communities.

“There’s a major push right now to get as many people vaccinated as possible and really too many people are waiting to get vaccinated,” Henderson said. “That can potentially let variants take hold in the population and start this pandemic all over again. We do not want to go back to where we were last year, we do not want to be in trouble again this fall, and if we want to avoid that people need to get vaccinated.”

The state has set a goal of having 70% of adults with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 4 and Henderson asked businesses, community organizations, and others to encourage employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help the state reach its goal.

To learn more about COVID-19 or the vaccine, visit coronavirus.utah.gov.

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Utah Democrats criticize Burgess Owens over deleted praise of candidate tied to QAnon

The Utah Democratic Party criticized U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, on Friday after the congressman briefly tweeted praise for a controversial congressional GOP candidate who has supported the QAnon conspiracy.

Anna Paulina Luna, a Florida Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Democratic 13th Congressional District Rep. Charlie Crist in the 2020 general election, took to Twitter on Thursday to announce she is running in 2022.

“Let’s take back OUR HOUSE & retire (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi,” said Luna, whose platform includes rejecting “race-baiting politics” and the “betrayal of American workers (and) families” by liberals.

Luna received criticism in 2020 for appealing to supporters of QAnon, a fringe political conspiracy theory that the FBI has identified as a potential domestic terrorist threat, after she appeared on a far-right program tied to the baseless conspiracy, as reported by Media Matters.

Owens received similar criticism on the campaign trail for appearing on QAnon-linked programs.

The Utah Republican appeared to endorse Luna on Thursday when he retweeted her campaign announcement.

“This is great news for FL,” Owens wrote on Twitter before deleting the tweet after 59 seconds, as documented by Propublica’s Politwoops.

Despite being up for less than a minute, the tweet caught the attention of the Utah Democratic Party, which called it “the latest in a long, long string of (Owens’) alignments with the dangerous ‘QAnon conspiracy.’”

“Now, Rep. Owens has amplified Anna Paulina Luna, who has accosted VP Kamala Harris at an airport, claiming she didn’t care about trafficking and child rape; appeared on a QAnon program, praising the hosts; and claimed the LGBTQ+ community is being used to make pedophilia acceptable,” the party said in a written statement.

The party further stated that Owens “should answer as to whether his latest tweet-and-delete play was an endorsement of a candidate he didn’t fully understand the harm of, or if it was a lack of judgment in which Rep. Owens endorsed a candidate that he already well-knew was dangerous.”

Utah Democratic Party Chair Jeff Merchant said that Owens’ “latest tweet-and-delete endorsement of QAnon through Anna Paulina Luna is another knot in the web of lies that Burgess Owens weaves to damage our nation through (former President Donald) Trump’s ‘Big Lie.’”

“Clearly, Burgess Owens shows no sign of remorse in this, the latest in a long string of anti-American and pro-extremist acts that look to damage the very fabric of our democratic processes,” said Merchant.

Owens’ campaign, which has previously stated that the congressman doesn’t believe in or follow QAnon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.