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Ogden issues warning: If residents misuse culinary water, they could be charged with a crime

Officials worry people will use drinking water to keep their lawns green.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pineview Reservoir, Ogden's primary water supply, seen on Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, has since dropped below 16% capacity. Water managers shut off secondary water early due to Utah's prolonged drought, and now they're working to prevent residents from using drinking water instead to keep their landscapes green.

As Utah continues to struggle with a prolonged drought, Ogden could issue criminal penalties for residents who overuse culinary water outdoors.

Many city residents use untreated secondary water to keep their landscapes lush. Water providers shut down secondary water service early this year as the city’s main water source, Pineview Reservoir, fell below 16% capacity. City officials worry residents will turn to treated culinary water instead to maintain their lawns and gardens, so it issued an administrative order.

No culinary water on lawns and drought-tolerant plants after Oct. 1. No culinary water for spot-irrigating trees, shrubs and gardens after Oct. 31. And using culinary water to wash driveways, patios and other hard surfaces is prohibited.

The order also limits any outdoor irrigating to two days a week, before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Those caught violating the restrictions could lose their water service or face civil and class B criminal penalties.

“This has been a very challenging year for water managers,” Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said in a news release. He added that city workers have repaired pipelines this year, saving millions of gallons of water.

“However, we still need to ask residents to do their part to conserve,” Caldwell said, “so we are all proactive in helping to control our situation in the future.”

Water restrictions won’t apply to institutional customers serving the general public, like universities, golf courses and parks.

Utility managers further advise Ogden residents to delay planting new landscapes until the spring.

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