By Taylor Stevens, Salt Lake Tribune
Early Tuesday morning, Paul Hirst received a call with “unprecedented” news: Twenty-five million gallons of water had been drained from one of the Benchland Irrigation Water District’s reservoirs overnight, leaving it empty for the first time anyone working there can remember.
A water shortage, spurred by low snowpack, dry conditions and rapid population growth, led the district to implement tough usage restrictions earlier this month on the east Farmington residents it serves in Davis County.
“We use 30 million gallons a day [on average], which is obscene to be using that much water,” said Hirst, who’s a member of the district’s board of trustees. “There isn’t a supply large enough to meet that demand. So we have these reservoirs that we fill that then can take that demand but they don’t empty and they haven’t ever emptied — until now.”
Even with a $50 fine for a first offense — and complete disconnection from the water system on the third — the district can’t seem to break customers of the habit of chronic overwatering, said Hirst. Officials issued 400 citations during their first enforcement last weekend of the watering restriction from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday.
Hirst said he believes some of the people who received citations may have watered their lawns the entire night, in a “vindictive” effort to make a point. The district has received a number of angry calls and even threats of lawsuits over the restrictions.