EDEN, Utah — Utah’s exceptional drought is forcing a small water company to drastically raise rates for the biggest users. It’s an effort to remind shareholders to conserve.
"This is the pump house. This is the well. We had to turn these on in May — two months early,” said Rod Lackey, Eden Water Works board president. "I have never heard of that happening."
Since 1861, water for shareholders has come from Burnett Springs. During this exceptional drought, its output is just half for this time of year. Near the wells, the north fork of the Ogden River is dry, too.
"If we have another dry winter, it’s pretty scary. So we are being careful,” said Lackey.
The water company implemented a 400% rate hike for shareholders who use more than 20,000 gallons of culinary water.
“We are hoping people think... 'Maybe I don’t need to water that acre of grass,'” said Lackey.
As a non-profit water company owned by shareholders, users pay some of the lowest prices in the state.
"It’s time for Utahns to start thinking about water being valuable and charged as if water matters which is what our future holds,” said Utah Rivers Council Executive Director Zach Frankel.
Utah Rivers Council promotes water sustainability. Frankel says the drought forcing other water managers to consider charging more.
“There is a lot of need to raise rates in Utah because we have some of the least expensive water rates in the entire U.S., and that explains why we have America’s number one highest municipal water usage in the entire nation,” said Frankel.
Lackey says 75% of shareholders won’t be paying more in Eden. Rates will stay in place until the drought improves.
“Hopefully, this is getting everybody at least in the thought process of conserving water,” said Lackey.