Drilling of four test holes near Tropic's culinary water spring has failed to help the town's officials determine what has happened to the community's water supply. The spring, which generally produces about 90 gallons of water per minute, is flowing at only about 25 gallons.

But officials haven't given up hope of finding a way to alleviate the situation, even if the drought continues. Mayor Bob Bradley voiced disappointment at not finding water at the test holes near the spring's source in Bryce Canyon National Park, but the Town Council has hopes of finding financing to improve the culinary water supply from other sources.The mayor said Tropic has valid well rights and is looking at three possible sites for drilling, located southeast and southwest of the community and north of the school. The town also has an agreement with the Spring Creek Irrigation Co. to use water if needed in return for improving the quantity of water from that source.

The culinary water supply dwindled so low this year that water from the Paria River had to be pumped into the system, requiring residents to boil their drinking water. Some homes have periodically been without culinary water. Mobile tanks of water have been brought to the community and water was hauled to the school after fountains were turned off.

A $160,000 grant was received from the Utah Community Impact Board to finance drilling, and it is anticipated that more money may be available through grants or interest-free loans. A request was filed with the board for $755,000 to develop a reliable culinary water system.

Further adding to the town's water problems is a long-term debt yet to be amortized for the present, inadequate system. Payments of $700 per month are being made on a 40-year loan that won't be paid off for another 27 years.

Meanwhile, the mayor said water pipes have been cleaned to improve the current water source that is expected to increase its flow when the drought ends. It will continue to be used with water from new sources that may be developed.