Hyde Park residents frustrated to learn they could run out of water

Jul 1, 2021, 6:53 AM | Updated: 8:16 am
hyde park mayor addresses water supply...
Hyde Park Mayor Charles Wheelers explains the water supply concerns to KSL TV's Jed Boal. Photo: KSL NewsRadio

HYDE PARK, Utah — A Cache County city is calling on its residents to reduce their outdoor water usage by 50%, or else its water supply may run out by Saturday — but many Hyde Park residents want to know why they didn’t learn about the situation much sooner.

Notice went out on Tuesday

Hyde Park Mayor Charles Wheeler warned residents in a statement Tuesday, explaining the city is “unable to provide the amount of water we are consuming,” attributing the shortage to the ongoing drought. Wheeler says the majority of the city’s water goes to outdoor irrigation and watering; those needs use it faster than the tanks replenish

The city primarily uses canal water for irrigation. However, about a third of residents use culinary water to water outside because they live above the canal that provides the secondary water, Wheeler told KSL NewsRadio Tuesday

Wheeler says the responsibility to conserve water falls on Hyde Park residents. He said if each resident cut outdoor watering by 50% effective immediately, the tanks would replenish fast enough to keep up with demand. 

“As long as less [water] is being used than coming in, we will be fine. The difference is reducing the amount of water going on lawns,” said the mayor. 

He says the reduction will ensure there is enough water for everyday needs, but most importantly for fire protection. 

Water supply concerns take city by surprise 

Many Hyde Park residents expressed their concerns and frustrations with the water notice on a neighborhood Facebook group.

On the page, residents questioned why Wheeler didn’t suggest that they cut back 100% of outdoor irrigation immediately. Would a 50% reduction be enough, some wondered. A slew of people asked why they weren’t made aware of the water shortage sooner until it was posted on social media.

“I haven’t gotten any info on this. If we’re going to run out of water by Saturday, don’t you think we should be cutting our outdoor watering by 100%?” asked one resident. 

Data on the Hyde Park water supply

Wheeler said he didn’t want to risk residents not listening.

“We don’t want to raise the wolf syndrome, where you call wolf every five minutes,” explained Wheeler. “Pretty soon, nobody listens to you.” 

Instead, Wheeler waited for the data to show the city needed to take action. That moment came for city leaders when water levels reached eight feet at one point. 

“The computer modeling told us: people are using it too quickly, too fast, too much that you will not have any water in the system as of the Saturday, the third of July.”

Residents frustrated over lack of info

Hyde Park said they sent out a notice to residents via phone or text, but not everyone got it. Although, some people who did get the alert thought it was a scam, citing a lack of information from the city. 

The reason why the entire Hyde Park community didn’t get the memo, according to Wheeler, is because the local government doesn’t have access to everyone’s contact information. 

“They don’t share cell phone numbers. They don’t share email addresses with cities,” Wheeler said. “So the question then becomes how can the city reach out to you and contact you? And we find it very, very difficult.”

However, Wheeler says the notice to Hyde Park seems to be working. “We went from a dire situation to an acceptable situation, one where we have water for all the needs that they have in the house and fire protection,” Wheeler said. 

But the city isn’t totally out of the woods. Wheeler said water tanks go down during the day when people are using the resource the most and tend to recover at night. 

The city said the advisory to reduce outside watering will continue throughout the remainder of the summer. 

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Hyde Park residents frustrated to learn they could run out of water