Ogden City implements restrictions and fines to save water

Utah Drought

OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Ogden City is facing a moderate water shortage, and now the city is asking residents to take specific steps to help conserve water. If they don’t, they may be fined.

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Ogden City’s water storage is made up of many different sources. From private wells to Pineview Reservoir, they all work to make sure residents have water when they need it. However, that storage is currently 30% lower than average. Water-use restrictions are now in place.

“It’s just to try to get people to be more observant of what they’re doing when it comes to water and be more conscientious,” explains Ogden City Water Manager Brady Herd.

The goal of the newly implemented water restrictions is to get homes to reduce their water usage by 5% and commercial properties by 15%. It is up to the households and businesses to figure out what works best for them.

However, the city is implementing strict rules for the single biggest use of water: lawn care. The city is banning outdoor watering from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those who don’t comply with this can be fined $50 for the first offense. With additional offenses, residents can expect to pay up to $150.

“We’re not out there to try to catch people, in a sense, or to really come down heavy handed,” says Herd. “If you will, we’re just trying to conserve the limited resource that we’re being given this year.”

The city is asking for everyone’s help in reducing the use of water. If a resident sees a water leak or sprinklers being used in the middle of the day at a park, business, or anywhere else, the city asks the resident to report it here.

“If you can get a picture with an address, as well as the date stamp and timing of it all, that definitely would help the code enforcers to where they can easily see that it actually was out of compliance,” adds Herd.

The city is also asking all residents to maintain and properly adjust their irrigation system to avoid wasting water. Along with that, the city asks that everyone adjusts watering times based on weather.

For those who aren’t sure if their watering system is efficient, the city offers free consultations. Any resident can request to have a conservationist come out to his or her home and inspect the watering system.

For residents with swimming pools, the city asks recommends using a cover when the pool is not in use as well as lowering the pool water level by four inches to minimize water loss from splashing.

These restrictions may come as a surprise for some. However, water conservation officials say this summer’s lack of water started with last summer’s extreme heat.

“What that (2020’s summer conditions) did is make soil moisture go so low that when our runoff did come this year, it basically filled up that soil moisture cavity and did not runoff into the river systems, did not runoff into our reservoirs, and that’s why we’re seeing those problems,” explains Weber Basin Water Conservancy District Assistant General Manager Darren Hess.

Hess tells ABC4 that with 2021 turning out to be another hot, dry year, officials are looking ahead. He adds, “That is going to be a real concern for us. So, we need to try to carry over as much water as we possibly can, so we maintain water for next year.”

Ogden City is also making changes to combat the water shortage. This summer, all city-owned decorative fountains will remain shut off. The city is asking residents and businesses to do the same.

If the city’s parks begin to look slightly overgrown, that is another step it’s taking during the drought. Leaving grass on the longer side allows it to hold onto water better, meaning it will not need to be watered as often as possible.

The city also has software that sends alerts when there are irregularities in customer water usage. This means the public works department will reach out to residents and business owners if data is showing there may be a water leak on the person’s property.

In addition to those strategies and the city’s declaration of water shortage, the Public Services Department has implemented the following water conservation strategies:

  • No outdoor irrigation between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., including parks, cemetery, and golf courses
  • The city has reduced irrigation on parks, cemetery, and golf courses
  • Replacing old leaking antiquated waterlines
  • Distribution of indoor conservation kits
  • Limiting outdoor surface washing
  • Sending a conservation letter out to educate customers about the drought condition and encourage them to take action to reduce water consumption
  • The city Water Conservation Program Coordinator has been meeting with customers to help them optimize their water consumption and sprinklers, and offers personalized suggestions on how they can reduce their use.

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