“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” is from a poem from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Coleridge. Imagine living with a view of the Great Salt Lake and knowing that all that water south of Willard Bay is undrinkable. It might gnaw at you knowing that being surrounded by or within close proximity of it you can’t benefit much from the salty water except to rely on helping it to create great powdery snow in our winter and create the random ‘lake effect’ that boosts some storms into mega downpours.
This phrase also may relate to residents of Summit County, especially those living in Oakley City. Although there are lakes and rivers surrounding the town that saw massive spring runoff from the Unitah mountains which increased the flow during last year’s massive snowpack, it’s only now that the area is seeing more water. You see, back in May of 2021 the Oakley City Council was forced to adopt the following moratorium: Ordinance 2021-6: “Moratorium on all building permit approvals requiring a new connection or extension of an existing connection to city water and a moratorium on installation of new landscaping that requires irrigation with the city culinary water.” The town leaders had to stop all building permits of land improvements such as new homes because the multi-year drought leading up to 2021 created a very scary situation for the area and they wanted to avoid a potential water crisis which could have created a scarcity for the city’s current residents. The Council was also worried that if they did run out of water there wouldn’t be any way to fight fires in and around the town. Projects that already had permits were allowed to continue but no permits requiring water connections were allowed for six months, and the Council had to extend the moratorium longer than expected to find more resources. Residents were encouraged to restrict water use to outdoor watering every other day to help ease the demand.
Fast forward to November 2023 and the City Council has now lifted its moratorium on new development and is now allowing new water hookups/permits. How so? It appears that a very deep well has been found and the City will be able to tap into it come June of 2024. Officials believe that this new source of water will quadruple its current supply to the approximately 1,500 residents of the town.
This pause in construction was unique in modern days to a Utah town but many Western states and towns have also had to restrict building permits, such as communities in and around Monterey, California. Luckily we had a ton of snow last year and a good spring so drought has ended in much of California, Nevada and Utah for now. As the locals here say, ‘Fast and pray’, or PRAY FAST that we have a great snow year!