SALT LAKE CITY – As of Oct. 1, nearly all of Utah was in some stage of drought. Fire danger is high, wildfires have consumed thousands of acres this year, native vegetation is sparse and streams are low. This year set a record for Utah’s hottest, driest August on record, which serves as a reminder of the importance of conserving this critical resource.
The Great Salt Lake Advisory Council, Weber Basin, and Bowen Collins and Associates met with the Utah Division of Water Resources to discuss a recent study concerning water conservation in the Beehive State.
The report focused on the Bear River Water Conservancy District (WCD), Cache Water District, Jordan Valley WCD, and Weber Basin WC. These water providers were selected for analysis because they indicated an expected need for significant additional future water supply, including participation in, and delivering water from the Bear River Development project.
Jeremy Auguero, an economic analyst with Applied Analysis, said Utah water is an essential element of both economic stability and economic development. The combination of historic drought conditions and continual growth in southwestern United States has made water an increasingly scarce commodity.
As the population in Utah grows so does the need for water. Water conservation can be critical to meet the water needs and can significantly postpone water development projects, like dams.
“We’ve seen how implementing water conservation strategies can delay large-scale infrastructure projects,” said Todd Adams, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources. “When the Legislature passed the Bear River Development Act in 1991, the projected need for the water was in 2015. Thanks primarily to conservation efforts, new technology and some smaller water development projects, current projections indicate the water won’t be needed until 2045 to 2050.”
The study released today revealed how conservation efforts have been an essential part in delaying water development projects in the past and how essential it is in meeting Utah’s future water needs.
“Raising awareness of the impact we can have on our water supply by making simple changes is one of the most effective things we can do to stretch our water supply,” said Adams. “We appreciate those Utahns and sectors who do their part to conserve this precious resource by embracing a waterwise ethic to safeguard our future.”
The division promotes using water wisely, which is always the right thing to do whether the state is experiencing drought or not. They also promote water conservation wherever it can be implemented – which is everywhere, including your tap.
To meet future water needs, the division seeks balanced solutions that include conservation, efficiency, optimization, agriculture conversion and water development.
Notable conservation efforts include the following:
Regional Water Conservation Goals – Regional water conservation goals established in 2019 build on the “25% by 2025” goal introduced by Gov. Gary Herbert. Targeting goals by region allows the goals to account for things like climate, elevation, growing season and specific needs.
Water Efficiency Projects – Since 1947, the Utah Board of Water Resources has provided over $850 million in low-interest or no-interest loans to more than 1,500 private water companies, irrigation companies, municipalities and water districts for canal lining, canal enclosure (piping), sprinkler irrigation, dam safety, secondary meters and more. These projects have a combined total value of $2.3 billion.
Slow the Flow –“Slow the flow save H2O…” is a jingle many remember and have incorporated into their daily habits. The division has been partnering with water districts around the state for over 20 years in the Slow the Flow campaign.
Cloud Seeding Augments Water Supply – Utah has been cloud seeding since the early 1950s to help augment the state’s water supply. Cloud seeding is a low-cost, low-risk, non-structural method to increase existing water supplies in target areas of Utah mountain range
Rebates – The Utah Water Savers program provides statewide rebates for smart irrigation timers and low-flow toilets – saving water and money. Additional rebates may also be available in certain service areas.
Secondary Metering – As more secondary water is metered around the state, the data becomes more accurate, which makes for better planning. Meters can also be an effective tool in reducing water use.