Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Watershed woes plague Iron, Garfield counties in wildfire's aftermath

SALT LAKE CITY — E. coli contamination of five springs that supply Panguitch residents with drinking water is prompting an emergency funding request to Gov. Gary Herbert for a new well. Panguitch's city manager said the community 25 miles outside Bryce Canyon National Park will not survive next year's tourist season without the new source of water. For now, residents are getting by with culinary water from two remaining springs, and any outdoor use is banned. On the other side of the mountain in neighboring Iron County, Parowan residents are also going without water for their lawns and gardens, and hay farmers on the south end of town are hoping to squeak by with one more harvest — even if there's no water to be had. This summer's devastating Brian Head wildfire has long been extinguished, but its effects rage on in the watershed. Flash flooding has stirred up groundwater that has contaminated springs serving 800 commercial and residential connections in Panguitch. In Parowan, the city partnered with Iron County to secure $1.9 million in federal emergency watershed funding to replace its secondary water system decimated by August flooding and debris flows in the wake of the Brian Head Fire. "That money is for emergency repairs to basically bring things back to their state before the fire," said Joshua Jones, Parowan's city manager. "We're pursuing other grants for a retention basin for capacity and flood control." A posting on the city's website notes the system is down for the season and acknowledges residents' frustration. "We understand the frustrations; we are frustrated as well. These are not easy, quick fixes. Between the fire and the heavy rains and flooding, we want to work with the engineers and other agencies to get these problems fixed long term," the posting reads...more

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