Montezuma conserves its water |

Montezuma conserves its water

Kimberly Nicoletti

MONTEZUMA – Montezuma officials adopted a mandatory water restriction three weeks ago, when water flow from the Morgan Creek Gulch didn’t replenish the town’s 12,000-gallon holding tank within 12 hours.

Montezuma resident Dan Dantes, who controls the irrigation system, restricted water use from the tank after it took more than 12 hours to refill. Normally, water flowing from the gulch replenishes the tank within 30 minutes.

Dantes shut off the valves, then discussed it a few days later at the town meeting July 16. His decision made the previously unlimited irrigation available to residents only from 6 p.m.-9 a.m. every five days.

Most residents knew the restriction was coming because town officials have monitored the tank’s level closely for the past month since Water Commissioner Scott Hummer suggested maintaining the water level for what little fire protection it could offer, Hinkley said.

“This is the first year we’ve restricted it,” Dantes said. “We’ve always had more than enough (water).”

“The creek never made it to the Snake River this year,” former mayor Paul Hinkley said. “I’ve never seen Morgan not make it to the Snake River, and that’s been 20 years. This is definitely the driest we’ve seen it. It looks like the middle of August or the first of September up here. We’ve had better flow rates in the winter.”

Last week, the town received 0.5 to 1 inch of rainfall every other night, so Dante didn’t turn on the irrigation system at all, Hinkley said. The tank supplies 80 percent of the town’s irrigation needs. Residents rely both on the system and rainfall, as their wells aren’t approved for outdoor use. However, no one has complained.

“It’s a restriction, and it’s kind of an educational thing,” Hinkley said. “People up here are probably more conservation-oriented anyway. Everybody’s been up here for a really long time, and they’re pretty much in agreement that … it’s more important to keep our water tank full.”

Hinkley has lived without indoor plumbing for 10 years, and many Montezuma residents still live without running water.

“It’s amazing how long you can go on 5 gallons when you’re hand-carrying it.”

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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