Virgin River water restrictions for irrigation now in effect

Posted at 8:48 PM, Jul 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-06 22:48:05-04

HURRICANE, Utah - Water restrictions for those who draw from the Virgin River for irrigation went into effect Monday.

The Utah State Water Engineer announced the restrictions late last month after ongoing drought conditions dropped water levels dangerously low.

Under those restrictions, users above the Washington Fields Diversion with water rights obtained after 1901 are required to stop drawing until further notice.

The restrictions are the same that were implemented last year. Many farmers planned for the restrictions, but water district managers say the ongoing drought is causing concern.

“The last good year we had was in 2010,” said Washington County Water Conservancy District general manager Ron Thompson. “We have just had extraordinarily dry years the last four years.”

For farmers like John Wadsworth, those restrictions will mean letting some fields to go dry, and focusing water on other crops.

“Right now I have 25 acres dried up,” Wadsworth said. “Ten more acres dried up… so that I free up my water to put on my peaches and my little bit of pasture.”

Wadsworth said many farmers have been using an extended watering schedule since March. Agreements with local water districts will allow for a little draw from storage, but mostly they’re looking to the skies to fill in the gaps.

“Had this cloud cover not come, and these little showers, the river was going down, down, down every day,” Wadsworth said.

Restrictions will also affect the Toquerville Secondary Water System. Residential water users are limited to outdoor watering a maximum of three assigned days per week between 6 to 9 p.m. and agricultural users are limited to watering a maximum of two assigned days per week between 6 and 11 a.m.

Fines of double and then triple the annual assessment will be imposed on the third and then fourth violation.  A fifth violation will result in shutting off the water for the duration of the season.

For additional details or questions regarding restrictions, contact the Washington County Water Conservancy District at 435-673-3617.