If Provo is to have enough water in the distant future, the planning for that must happen now.
On Tuesday, the City Council heard of a proposed 40-year plan that will be brought at a future date for approval by the council.
Each city is required by state code to submit 40-year plans to make sure cities are using surface water water rights.
Before the city adopts a 40-year plan, there must be a supply and demand master plan developed, according to Keith Larson, water consultant with Bowen Collins.
“You never want to design exactly what water needs are,” Larson said.
Larson said the three water suppliers for Provo are from springs, wells and surface water. Water from springs go up and down over the years. In 2018, it was down.
Wells are trending downward, so surface water is an important component to conserves, Larson said.
“More water is being taken out of the aquifers than is going in,” Larson said. “There is a significant draw down.”
While that all sounds rather ominous, Larson said Provo is in pretty good shape, but could potentially run into trouble.
There is concern if future water would be available during long-term drought, natural disasters, contamination mechanical failure and climate change, which would include demand going up.
Currently, Provo’s population is about 123,336. In 40 years, population is projected to be 197,136.
Surface water needs to be stored underground until such time that it is needed. There is enough ground surface water to help.
“We must also continue developing wells,” Larson said. “Aquifer storage recovery will be significant for the future.”
In the coming two months, the city will start pilot programs to monitor where water is going.
“It takes years for (surface) water to travel,” Larson said.
After that information is collected it will be brought back to the council for approval.
“it will take some money to move forward with long term plans,” said Dave Decker, director of public works.
Larson said even though Provo is using less than its ground water rights, Provo staff is concerned the aquifer may not be capable of supporting significant additional withdrawals.
The good news is Provo has significant additional surface water rights available to meet future demands.
Larson recommends the city take advantage of available surface water rights and use the aquifer storage recovery and Jordanelle Reservoir storage.