UTAH (ABC4) – Roy Harward was driving past a South Jordan corporate park near his home Monday when he noticed the sprinkler system was on.
Utah is currently experiencing a severe drought. Amid extremely dry conditions across Utah, Governor Spencer Cox has issued an executive order to enact water conservation at all state facilities.
The order forbids irrigation at state facilities between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., requires sprinklers are shut off during rain storms, and ensures landscape water systems are operating efficiently.
Having reached out to the corporate park in the past about their watering habits, Harward posted a video and pictures of the sprinklers running on the South Jordan Citizens Facebook page.
Harward says he didn’t have any negative intentions in doing so and doesn’t want to shame or draw negative attention to the business. Rather, he wants to spread awareness, he explains.
“How can we get people to be aware of, you don’t need to be watering your lawn in March and April?” he asks. “I haven’t turned my sprinklers on yet, and my grass has been green for months because I fertilize and mow…there is a way to do it different than just throwing a bunch of water at it.”
We’re the fastest growing state by the census, he says.
“We’re growing like a weed,… if we want the good things, we need to conserve a little,” he tells ABC4. “We can all do our part, and we can all do better.”
Marcie McCartney is the Communications, water efficiency, and education manager at the Utah Division of Water Resources.
“Anybody who does their part conserving water is going to get a little frustrated to see others wasting,” she tells ABC4.
And there is a proper way to report someone for inappropriate water use, as well as recognize those who are doing a good job of conserving, she says.
The Hall of Fame or Shame, moderated by the Utah Division of Water Resources, allows Utahns to report businesses, organizations, and individuals for water wasting.
“No public shaming occurs. We don’t accept pictures and this is a water-user education effort,” McCartney explains.
The Utah Division of Water Resources has received thousands of reports through The Hall of Fame or Shame in 2021. It has been a very positive tool for reporting water use, McCartney says.
In fact, just in the last 24 hours, the division has received over 600 shame reports, she tells ABC4.
From May 1 to June 9, 2021, a total of 5,112 reports (and counting) have flooded in. 673 of those reports were fame reports which highlight good water use habits. On the other hand, 4,439 were shame reports.
That is more reports than the division received throughout the entire year of 2020 which saw a total of just 167 reports.
People can also contact the water agency responsible for water in that area, the site states. These agencies can enforce good water practices. Visit conservewater.utah.gov for a list of local agencies where you can report water use abuse.
But it’s important to keep in mind that there are valid reasons why someone may have their sprinkler system going, such as for repair or fertilization, Kim Wells, Public Information Officer for the Utah Division of Water Resources, says.
“We’re not saying watering is always bad,” she says.
When someone submits a complaint, it gets sent to a local water provider, who decides from there how to handle it, she explains.
Currently, the state is recommending that those in most Utah counties wait to water their yards. It’s not a law, Wells says. Only local water providers can put water use restrictions in place. This is because they can make these decisions based on water supply in local areas.
“Some are fine, but some are really hurting,” Wells states. She says this is a time to be intentional and mindful of water use.
According to McCartney, Utah is one of the driest states in the nation and experiencing drought conditions not usual for this early in the year. She says waiting to water extends the state’s water supply and helps plants’ roots to grow deeper and become more resilient.
“Pointing fingers doesn’t save water,” she states. “We all need to be doing our part and doing the right thing.”
Apart from reporting incorrect water use, The Hall of Fame or Shame can be used to highlight good water habits, McCartney says.
People can share ways that they are working to save water, as well as give a shoutout to others. It can be a good way for people to get ideas of how to conserve water, McCartney shares.
For tips on how to conserve water, visit conservewater.utah.gov.