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Lehi moves to limit watering to twice a week

By Connor Richards daily Herald - | Jun 14, 2021
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Homes stand in northwestern Lehi near Interstate 15 on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Homes stand and vehicles drive along roads in northwestern Lehi on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Lehi officials are implementing the third and final phase of the city’s water shortage management plan as extreme drought conditions continue throughout Utah County and the rest of the state.

Under Phase 3, which goes into effect on Tuesday, water users may not water their yards more than two days a week and must wait at least 48 hours between watering cycles.

One irrigation cycle is equivalent to 20 minutes with pop-up spray heads and 40 minutes with impact rotor sprinklers, according to the city.

“With the current restrictions in place, we understand that there will be spots on lawns where there may be browning. We would encourage residents to spot water in those areas rather than run a whole irrigation zone or running your system longer,” Lehi Public Works wrote in an announcement about the restrictions.

The additional restrictions come just two weeks after the city moved to Phase 2 of the drought plan, which limited lawn watering to up to three days a week with 48 hours between watering cycles.

Also during Phase 3, hard-surface washing is restricted “except for health or safety reasons.”

A first violation results in a “hand-delivered written notice of violation and instructions on necessary corrective action,” while a second violation results in a $100 fine and warning of actions consequent to a third violation. A third violation results in a $500 fine.

The water shortage management plan includes exceptions for “new lawns that require frequent irrigation within 30 days for establishment purposes,” as well as for “short cycles required for testing, inspecting, and maintaining irrigation systems.”

The restrictions come as the west half of Utah County experiences “exceptional” drought conditions, while the east half experiences “extreme” drought conditions, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

During a Lehi City Council meeting on June 8, Matt Dalton of the Lehi Water Department said that “if we keep headed down the road we’re on with water usage, we will literally be running out (of irrigation water) come the first of September.”

“We need to conserve what we have to be able to sustain through the whole irrigation system,” Dalton said.

Dalton recommended that the city quickly implement Phase 3 of its water restriction plan, noting that doing so “is going to be absolutely necessary to make it through this summer.”

“And I don’t know that it’s worth waiting another two weeks to come here and revisit this,” he said.

Councilmember Paige Albrecht agreed that they should “pull the trigger now” and move to Phase 3, as did Councilmember Chris Condie.

“I think we have to,” Condie said. “There’s no choice.”

Mayor Mark Johnson advised that the city wait until Tuesday to implement the new restrictions to allow time to get the message out and avoid confusion.

Councilmember Paul Hancock noted that the drought “is a statewide problem” and “not just a Lehi problem.”

“Every statewide municipality is facing this,” said Hancock.

“It’s not just Lehi,” agreed Dalton. “It’s not the development that’s driving this drought. It’s Mother Nature doing it to the state.”

For more information about Lehi’s latest drought restrictions, visit http://www.lehi-ut.gov/conserve.

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