Despite Drought, Culinary Water Supply 'In Great Shape' In Coalville
Water is a hot button issue in agricultural communities. And with a drought state of emergency in effect, KPCW checked in with one North Summit County community.
The last time the city of Coalville issued a water restriction was around 40 years ago. And despite the drought order, this year the city most likely won’t see any issues, according to Coalville Mayor Trevor Johnson.
"On the culinary side we are in great shape," Johnson said. "We have more capacity to be able to store and we're not concerned about the culinary system that the secondary system could play into that a little bit."
He said the secondary water supply in the city needs some work. Coalville has been trying to get a grant to repair the city’s pond, which can only be filled up two-thirds of the way due to leaks.
He said the secondary water supply could affect the culinary supply.
"If you know we or not, we can't pull enough secondary water out of Chalk Creek to fill our pond to keep people's lawns watered," he said. "And then people start using the culinary water … that might be where it could potentially impact it, but even then I think we're still in a pretty good spot."
Johnson said the city’s water prices for residents can run higher than other areas because both culinary and secondary water are on the bill.
He also said the city recently updated it’s water infrastructure with a new sewer plant and water storage tank. These new amenities now need to be paid off through grants and bonds, which has been a driver in water bill costs in the city.
And while Coalville is still in the process of finalizing contracts for a building to treat the water for the shallow wells, Johnson says this project is the lowest on the city’s priorities; they likely won’t have to tap into this supply for 20 years.
He feels like the city shouldn’t be any more worried about water supply than anywhere else in the state.
"When our source runs low it’s about the time that everybody's source runs low," he said. "And if that happens sooner, rather than later - for example, kind of what we're gearing up for this year - we're gonna be in no better or no worse shape than anybody else in the state I think with our secondary water."
He does said that Coalville, like the rest of Utah, has a responsibility to conserve water.
"I think if we can be smart about watering our fields, watering our lawns, be responsible in how we do that," he said. "But that's an age old effort. Goes back generations and generations and water is always a touchy subject, especially among agricultural communities."
A recent government study found rainstorms have become more erratic in the West leading to longer droughts. As the planet continues to warm due to climate change, the U.S. southwest is expected to experience more droughts.
As summer approaches and conditions become drier, Johnson said the city will educate residents on water conservation. And if needed, they will use supplemental options to source more secondary water.
KPCW News reports on climate change issues are brought to you by the Park City Climate Fund at the Park City Community Foundation, an initiative that engages Park City in implementing local high impact climate solutions that have potential to be effective in similar communities.