Several homeowners with dry wells began receiving temporary water service from Salt Lake City Friday while they decide whether to hook up to municipal sources or drill deeper wells.
The temporary line consists of a fire hose strung along the curb that can be tapped with a garden hose. The line will give the residents water while they decide to drill deeper wells or connect to either the city or county water system, said LeRoy W. Hooton, Salt Lake City's public utilities director.A larger group of homeowners in the same area, around 45th South near Seventh and Ninth East, has made special requests to Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District for free connections and free water service for five years, claiming the two municipal water companies have pumped underground water in the area out of reach of the small, residential wells.
Those requests were refused, but the county district did agree to stop pumping one well in the area for 48 hours last week to see if the water table would go back up. That well was not put back in service at the end of the test because the water table was still too low to make it worthwhile.
The results of the test were inconclusive, so the group went to Salt Lake City Monday with the same request, but a bigger well.
Hooton said Salt Lake City's well is a major producer and helps provide fire protection in the area and downtown. "I'm dealing with tens of thousands of people who are receiving water from those wells," he said. "Therefore I couldn't just turn the water off."
Hooton said he reviewed groundwater data and found declining groundwater levels in the area are too general to make a connection between the municipal wells and the lack of water in the shallow, residential wells.
Hooton said shutting down the well wouldn't have accomplished much anyway because the city's priority rights are older than the residential wells. Instead, he offered the temporary connection to 11 homes on Garden Drive (970 East), and three homeowners there had filled out applications and were receiving water by Friday afternoon.
"I had been without water since Wednesday," said Vera Schrader, 4372 Garden Drive, while she was waiting for her temporary hookup. "It's the first trouble I've had in 36 years."
She said she and her neighbors were figuring out how to pay for a water main extension along the street so they could connect permanently with the municipal system and not have to pay to have their wells drilled deeper.
Lola Anderson, who lives next door to the Schraders, said she and others in the neighborhood are still uncertain how to solve the water problem because they live on fixed incomes and would have a difficult time paying for either the water connection or well service.
"You never miss the water until the well runs dry," she said. "I keep going to turn the water on somewhere and then I realize there isn't any."