This story is part of our Be Water Wise series. Each week we will be educating Utahns on water usage and conservation. Special thanks to The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District and Cynthia Bee for helping coordinate information.

WEBER BASIN, UT (ABC4) – Many Utah homeowners use secondary water for irrigation purposes. This comes in handy for large landowners or gardens. It has become almost commonplace for some to simply open the irrigation gate and let the water flow.

What if residents were able to track that water use? Could it change their watering habits and help in conservation efforts? The answer is astoundingly yes. When secondary water is metered it makes a difference in conservation and use.

Historic legislation was passed in 2022 requiring all secondary water connections in Utah to have a metering system in place by 2030. The state legislature has allotted $250 million to the effort, and this will allow water entities throughout the state to install meters on more than 200,000 connections.

Meter installation, combined with public education about responsible water use, has proven to be one of the state’s most effective water conservation tools. This has become a proven effort in the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

The WBWCD has made the metering system a benefit to their customers by offering an online customer portal where secondary water users can see first hand their water use.

“The portal allows the district’s metered customers the opportunity to be active participants in managing their water use,” reports Jon Parry, Assistant General Manager of WBWCD. “The portal allows easy access to near real-time water usage. Users can see how much water they are using, when they are watering, assist in identifying leaks, customize alerts, and compare their usage to estimated needs based on actual weather patterns.”

The portal also allows users to be proactive in managing their water use. The district has seen the utilization of the portal increase nearly 300% over the last few years. Last year the district reports 7,000 new customers signed up and over 65,000 alerts were sent to customers. Alerts give users a heads up about water use times, leaks, and user notifications.

 WBWCD reports that users in general have been surprised at their water use and have seen an improvement in conservation efforts due to the dissemination of information. The district says they have seen, on average, users reducing their water consumption by 20 – 30% after taking advantage of the district’s educational tools including the portal and free classes taught each year..

“Historically secondary water usage has not been metered. Moving to a metered system comes with a lot of learning opportunities. First, many users of secondary water are surprised to see just how much water is being used for their landscapes, and it is a lot,” said Parry. “Within the District’s service area, the average homeowner is using over 3,000 gallons every time they water their lawn. Compare this to your indoor water usage and you can see why we are focusing a lot of our conservation efforts on being better with our outdoor water usage. “

The Customer Portal offers a comprehensive view a customer’s water use. The following data is measured.

Usage Tracking: Customers can monitor exactly how many gallons they are using per hour, providing a clear understanding of their irrigation habits. Customers are surprised to discover how much water is being used for one irrigation cycle.

Duration Monitoring: Users can see how long their irrigation systems are running, aiding them in identifying opportunities for reduction.

Time-of-Day Data: The portal provides data on the time of day when water is being used, assisting customers in making informed decisions about when to irrigate for maximum efficiency.

Historical Data: Users can compare their current watering habits to their historical usage. This comparison can span from year to year, displaying improvements and reductions.

Leak Alerts: Water meters can help detect leaks within a customer’s irrigation system. A constant stream of water usage can be a sign of a leak, prompting homeowners to act before significant damage or water loss occurs.

Yearly Allocation Alert: Customers can sign up to receive either an email or a text message when they are getting close to exceeding their allocation for the year. This can help anticipate needed cutbacks and avoid early water shutoff and the associated fees.

For more details on secondary metering, you can visit the Utah Division of Water Resources information page on their website.