Maybe somebody was trying to tell city water users something. As they were overwhelmingly supporting a citywide pressurized irrigation system proposal last month, available water supplies were running out.
City voters approved the $3.6 million bonding for the project by an almost 5-to-1 margin in last month's primary election, and city officials said initial engineering could take place later this year. The loan, at 5 percent interest, will be repaid over 25 years with funds from the city's franchised utility tax.At the same time, City Administrator Glen Vernon and Mayor Richard Harmer told the Deseret News they would be purchasing additional water shares from Strawberry Water Users Association to provide water throughout the rest of September for open-ditch irrigation usage, since near-drought conditions have severely hampered the canyon stream flows.
The city did purchase those shares, though at a raised usage rate, up until Sept. 24, when the irrigation system was shut down - five days earlier than the city's usual shutdown date, according to irrigation clerk Dora Edvalson.
"We did purchase more shares, and up until the 24th, we still had irrigation water running. On that day, though, there was no more water running in the ditches."
Edvalson said that city officials believe Payson met its obligations to irrigation users, though the shutdown occurred early.
"We just got to the point that we felt we'd met our obligations with what we had available, and at the time there were no more water supplies."
In fact, Edvalson said irrigation users are probably lucky that there was any water available at all, because Strawberry was also low on supplies. In fact, to provide the additional shares to Payson City, Strawberry officials were forced to pump well water.
"That's probably why the shares were purchased at a quite substantially higher rate than usual."
Also, irrigation turns for residents were provided every 10 days for 26 minutes at a time, as opposed to the usual seven-day schedule, starting July 23, because the city and state have been so dry - having received only approximately 75 percent of normal precipitation totals, according to the State Climatologist's Office.
In addition, the city has been on mandatory culinary watering restrictions since July - allowing residents to use culinary supplies on lawns or gardens for specific time periods on alternating days, depending on street addresses.
Those restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future, though neighboring Springville recently rescinded its mandatory usage restrictions.
So far, cooperation with both the irrigation and culinary usage mandates has been good, and though city officials had promised that, if forced, the restrictions would be enforced, they haven't yet, Edvalson said.
"We'd be kind of hard-pressed to say whether all residents have been obeying the restrictions, but usage hasn't been quite so high since they were imposed. Maybe that indicates that people know about them and are following them."
Remaining Payson city restrictions on outdoor watering with culinary water:
- Even-numbered addresses on even-numbered calendar days, from 7 p.m. to midnight and 5 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- Odd-numbered addresses on odd-numbered calendar days, same hours.