As a child I looked forward to our water turn during summer months. There was no pressurized secondary water system in Syracuse then; we flood-irrigated our lawn. That was good for two reasons. My maternal grandparents loved to fish and paid my brother and me, handsomely, to gather earthworms. Flooding the lawn brought crawlers to the surface. They were our cash crop. We donned our swimsuits and eagerly gathered night crawlers, sharing the profits.

It was great, boyish fun. Night crawler farming, however, usually deteriorated into prank-play. One afternoon I sneaked behind my younger brother, Craig, and pushed him into the swollen supply ditch. He, of course, couldn’t let that rest! Chasing me about the yard he sought revenge. Thinking I’d beat him to the punch, I dived into the ditch.

When I surfaced I owned a six-inch gash in my left flank that left me disemboweled; the result of colliding with a broken bottle. Literally gathering myself together, I rushed to Mother.

Understand, this was not a Bandaid® laceration. As an adult, I appreciate her composure. Rushed to the Tanner Clinic, then on Gentile Street, the wound was closed. I was the proud owner of 156 stitches, and the talk of the whole neighborhood. Many marveled that healing occurred without serious infection, after all ditch water is filthy.

In our arid environment, every drop of water has value. This year reminds us of the dependency we all share on the snowpack held in mountain watersheds. As a boy I was taught of the Snow Horse. If you’re new to our community, perhaps its existence is unknown to you. Historically, locals relied on future water availability communicated to them by the image of a horse of snow on the mountainside. Just south of Adams’ Canyon above Layton, the silhouette of a horse walking up the mountain is formed by deep snow retained by rocky cliffs and valleys at about 8500 feet.  The Snow Horse can best be viewed along West Gentile Street looking directly east. Traditionally, if any portion of the Snow Horse is still visible by July 4th, there will be sufficient water that summer for all to share.

We all share this valuable resource. When water is abundant, we share that abundance; when scarce we share the responsibility to slow our use. We’ve been informed by those who supply us with our share of secondary water that they will not be reducing our supply this year. This is due to retained storage from prior years. We are asking that we limit outdoor watering to what is recommended by state hydrologists. This year we will be posting watering recommendations on the City Facebook page:   https://www.facebook.com/syracuseut/ , or you may view it on the web at https://conservewater.utah.gov/guide.html . We ask residents and businesses alike to follow those recommendations.  Keying in on Facebook will kinda be like watching the Snow Horse in years gone by.

Sometimes my brother and I did very well at night crawler farming. Our return on investment was terrific. There was much to share. There were times, however, when supply was down. We shared that outcome too! The word “community” means a coming together in unity to share what we have in common. 

Michael Gailey,

Mayor of Syracuse City