As the state enters a fifth consecutive year of drought, Bountiful officials are taking inventory of the city's culinary water stock.

And they're also beginning to consider ways to respond should the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District make good on threats to ration secondary, or irrigation, water.Although Weber Basin - which supplies secondary water to users in Davis, Weber and Morgan counties - has severe shortages in its reservoirs, the Bountiful Water Department has more-than-adequate supplies of drinking water, according to Jack Balling, city engineer.

"As far as culinary water is concerned, we're in pretty good shape. We have enough to take care of summer demand," Balling said.

But the city does not have sufficient water supplies to supplement the Weber Basin secondary system, which all Bountiful residents west of Bountiful Boulevard depend upon to irrigate their lawns and gardens.

Residents east of the boulevard use culinary water for both indoor and outdoor purposes.

Last year, Bountiful residents and farmers used 5.2 billion gallons of Weber Basin water, about 31/2 times the amount of culinary water they used.

So, if Weber Basin does implement a water rationing plan, Bountiful will most likely have to pass an ordinance prohibiting residents from irrigating with culinary water.

"The city does not have the sources, nor the system, to provide for the shortage in irrigation (water)," Balling said.

Weber Basin has proposed that its customers be allowed to water their lawns and gardens for only three hours per day, twice a week.

If the rationing is put into effect, the city might consider forcing residents east of Bountiful Boulevard into a similar rationing program, a plan that may not be politically popular.

"When you announce that, the pipeline issue is going to seem insignificant," said Mayor Bob Linnell, referring to efforts by numerous east bench residents to stop construction of an interstate natural gas pipeline.City Manager Tom Hardy agreed, noting that residents above the boulevard were "not impressed" last year by the city's "no-water Wednesday" restriction.

"They said, `Look, we have a meter; you've got the water; we're going to use it,"' Hardy said.

Any restrictions imposed on residents would have to be accompanied by threats of fines and surcharges, he said.

"We need to impress upon our people that the way around (irrigation water rationing) is not by using culinary water."

The city manager said the public also should be warned against "cross connecting" their secondary water lines with culinary lines. Cross connections can cause untreated secondary water to enter and contaminate the culinary system, Hardy said.

Councilman Harold Shafter said residents should be encouraged to conserve.

"We need to realize we're living in the second driest state in the country and we need to think conserving."


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Water facts and figures

- Bountiful used 1.5 billion gallons of culinary water in 1990, or an average of about 3,000 gallons per minute.

- The city's nine active wells are capable of pumping 6,000 gallons per minute. The city also owns five inactive wells that could provide an additional 4,000 gallons per minute. However, it would take pumps, piping and other equipment worth $500,000 to put those wells into service.

- Backing up the wells are 11 city-owned underground concrete reservoirs with combined storage capacity of 12.8 million gallons, or enough to provide the city's water needs for three average days.