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Drought task force moves to phase two

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After six weeks discussing drought condition indicators, the Orchard City drought task force is preparing to move to phase two of its plan. This phase will focus on developing guidelines for conserving and reducing water use should a drought be declared.

"I don't care if this process takes six months," said trustee Doug Keller. "We're not dealing with the current year's drought situation. We're looking towards the future."

Each meeting held by the task force has proven beneficial. The discussion, said Keller, is useful and "great." The first phase focused on determining what categories the board could evaluate in future need for determining drought.

At the Aug. 28 meeting, it narrowed the list further, from four to three. It advises that in the spring, the board look at current spring flow versus demand, the winter supply flow and demand, and SNOTEL data for future predictions of water availability.

"We've arrived at what we feel comfortable presenting to the board," said Trustee Keller. He indicated that if one of these categories is considered "not normal," there likely won't be a drought declared. Two not normal categories, however, will need further investigation.

If all three indicators show lack of water, a drought will most likely be declared.

However, other factors, like spring rains or late snowfall, could alter the likelihood of a drought even if all three indicators show low water content. This policy will mainly serve as a guide for future decisions.

Eventually, the task force will also discuss a phase three to the drought policy: what to do when a drought is called off.

Trustee Keller also note that the group is doing the best it can, as there's no set scientific way to creating a drought policy. "The main thing is we're concerned about water content and devising a method for the indicators to be population sensitive," he said.

There will be at least one more meeting, if not more, for the drought task force. The Sept. 4 meeting was postponed due to the holiday and will be held on Sept. 11. Meetings are held at 7 p.m. at 9661 2100 Road in Austin.

Currently 10-12 citizens consistently come, and three board members facilitate discussion. Although trustees take part in discussions, no official action takes place during these meetings.

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Surface Creek
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drought, Orchard City
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