Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

September 4, 2018
Drought forces irrigation company to shut down distribution system

Severe drought conditions continue to persist in Tooele Valley with another month of below-normal precipitation and an irrigation company shutting down its system a month early.

Tooele received .42 inches of precipitation in August compared to a normal amount of .92 inches, according to Ned Bevan, local weather observer for the National Weather Service.

Tooele Valley has lagged behind normal precipitation totals for the past 11 months, according to the Utah Climate and Water Report.

Lack of available water stored in its reservoir prompted Settlement Canyon Irrigation Company to shut down its distribution system on Friday night, according to irrigation company president Bob Clegg. 

During most years, the system is open through the first week of October, he said.

Clegg said the system could be turned on again if the water level in the reservoir increases, but stream flow is not looking good.

“The streams and springs in the canyon that are visible are flowing noticeably less than normal,” he said. 

Clegg said shareholders were good complying with irrigation restrictions, and that made it possible for shareholders to irrigate through August.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows the eastern half of Tooele County in severe drought and the western side in moderate drought.

Sanpete and San Juan counties show exceptional drought and nearly all of the eastern side of Utah is in extreme drought, according to the drought monitor.

Records show that June, July and August are the driest months of the water year in Tooele Valley. Normal precipitation for those three months combined is 2.97 inches, according to Bevan.

But this year, those three months measured only 26 percent of normal with .76 inches of precipitation.

There was zero precipitation in June compared to a normal precipitation of 1.11 inches; .34 inches of precipitation in July compared to a normal precipitation of .92 inches; and .42 inches in August compared to a normal precipitation of .94 inches.

The 2017-18 water year ends Sept. 30. Total precipitation for the water year so far is 11.01 inches compared to normal total precipitation of 17.07 inches.

“There have been several years in my memory the water has had to be shut off earlier than is ideal,” Clegg said. “In those years, if the level in the reservoir gains sufficiently, the distribution system has been opened to allow irrigating for a time.

“We hope this could be possible this year, but with the stream flow being so low, I am not optimistic this is possible this year,” Clegg said. “We will have to wait and see how much water the reservoir gains in the next couple of weeks.”

The president also mentioned that the water level was down to the minimum level for fish to survive per an agreement with the state of Utah.

“The water was in the distribution system for as long as possible and still honor the agreement with the state,” Clegg said.

An Aug. 29 email from Grantsville Irrigation Company urged shareholders to check their meters and use no more than 175, 000 gallons per residential share. The email indicated that penalties for exceeding the allotment ranged from $137.50 to $1,000.

The average high temperature for Tooele in August was 90 degrees with an average low of 62.6 degrees.

The temperature hit a high of 97 degrees on Aug. 10-11. Coldest maximum temperature was 73 on the Aug. 28.

Warmest minimum temperature was 70 on Aug. 13 and the coldest minimum temperature was 49 on Aug. 28.


Mark Watson

Sports Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Mark directs all editorial coverage of sports in addition to reporting on a wide range of events from high school football to international racing. He has a wealth of journalism experience, having worked for four other newspapers in the state. Mark grew up in Tooele County and graduated from Grantsville High School and Brigham Young University.

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