Salt Lake officials have implemented "Phase One" of a water use plan designed to ease the stress on the city's water system.
The plan includes asking major water users in the city to alter their outside watering schedules away from peak demand times of the day. LeRoy W. Hooton Jr., the public works director, said he has asked parks officials to alter watering schedules at parks and golf courses.Other major water users to be contacted include the Salt Lake City School District, the University of Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and municipal government entities that buy water from Salt Lake City.
Demand on the water system has been peaking daily for the past several weeks because of the high temperatures and the absence of rainfall.
Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis said he is confident the city's water supply will be "in good shape" this dry summer, but the city may be forced to cut off surplus water sold to Salt Lake County residents.
"We're in good shape this year as far as water is concerned," DePaulis said. "The county's position is a little more tenuous . . . if we completely use our available (water) they'll have to go off line," he added.
Salt Lake City has retail customers east of Ninth East in some parts of Salt Lake County north of Sandy and also sells its surplus water to the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District, which has wholesale and retail customers valleywide.
Some of the county conservancy district's wholesale customers have water supplies of their own. Others do not.
DePaulis said the city could cut off surplus supplies even before it forces city residents to conserve water.
During the past several summers, Salt Lake City officials have said water would only be restricted to retail customers inside the city if supplies were insufficient after all surplus customers were cut off.
DePaulis said such restrictions are unlikely at this point, especially because Deer Creek Reservoir, from which much of the city's water comes, filled to capacity this year.
But if the dry spell lingers, the city could be forced to cut off the county.
Nick Sefakis, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake, which controls Deer Creek Water, said county water officials are aware of the phasing scenario the city would implement if supplies run short. His staff has spoken each week with the city's public utilities department and communicates regularly with the county conservancy district. "We don't have any mandates out," Sefakis said. "We determined yesterday that we would probably continue status quo until the weekend. We've heard a storm may be coming."
The situation will be reviewed again during the first part of next week.
"The water supply is still adequate because of good management," Sefakis said. "The problem is we are running our system at maximum capacity . . . and have been for the entire month."
Salt Lake City's water treatment plant at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon is designed to treat 100 million gallons per day. The plant has been treating 113 MGD for the past several weeks, Sefakis said.
If the conservancy district is bumped off the city's system, one east-side residential area near 94th South would be completely without water, said David Ovard, district associate director. Other water sources within the county district are "just fine otherwise," Ovard said, noting that Salt Lake City has not sent notice of any impending cutoffs.