SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Stage 2 water shortage response has been triggered for Salt Lake City and County water customers.

Mayor Erin Mendenall declared the water shortage Thursday, saying the dramatically low mountain snowmelt and stream flows are to blame. The creeks supplying a portion of the water for more than 360,000 water customers are ranging from only 22% to 52% of average this year.

“All indicators point to a severe drought in the coming months in Salt Lake City and across our state,” says Mayor Mendenhall. “Relying on data and advice from our water supply experts, we will increase our conservation efforts from an earlier Stage 1 to Stage 2 of our City Water Shortage Contingency Plan.”

In late March, Mendenhall enacted Stage 1 of the water shortage contigency plan as a fully voluntary advisory.

While most actions remain voluntary in Stage 2, greater conservation responsibilities fall on municipal and other goverment facilities.

Government facilities throughout Salt Lake City’s service area are now required to stay within established watering budgets and to implement specific best practices to reduce water use and waste.

The city’s Department of Public Utilities will continue to inform the public of water supply conditions and increase public education about water conservation. The goal, according to city officials, is to save enough water now to prevent more stringent responses later on.

“Our snowpack, stream flow, and reservoir storage are exceedingly low. Less precipitation means our soil moisture is also exceptionally low,” says SLCDPU Director Laura Briefer. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates that most of Salt Lake County is in ‘exceptional drought’ and drought in our region is anticipated to be persistent through the coming months. As the summer watering season progresses, we want to be proactive and timely in our response.”

Stage 2 conservation objectives include: 

  • Managing water use and reducing water use at municipal facilities and other institutional properties
  • Coordination with government agencies and school districts with properties within the Public Utilities service area to take actions that reduce water use
  • Managing water supply conservatively enough to avoid or minimize the need for later, more stringent actions
  • Minimizing water waste through carelessness—either intentional or accidental

City departments and divisions will now reduce outdoor watering and will test equipment for maximum watering efficiency as dry conditions continue. The Salt Lake City Fire Department will conduct only ‘dry’ fire hydrant inspections this summer. This will allow them to assess proper working order for fire flows rather than opening hydrants.

The Department of Public Services will monitor water use in managed parks and facilities, and stay within watering budgets.

If you see a broken sprinkler and irrigation systems in City parks and on building grounds, you are encouraged to report them via the SLC Mobile app.

All residents and businesses are encouraged to monitor indoor and outdoor water use and to conserve in every way possible.

The last time Salt Lake City declared a Stage 2 response was 2004. In that same year, a Stage 3 response was triggered. City parks and golf courses were required to cut water use by 15%, fund-raising car washes were prohibited, and city water fountains were shut off.

City officials are encouraging taking simple conservation measures now that may help prevent the need for moving to a more restrictive stage of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan:

  • Sign up for a free water check from Utah State University Extension. This will help you determine efficient watering levels for your lawn and landscapes.
  • Adjust automatic sprinkler controllers to reflect the season and weather, including shutting off during rainstorms. 
  • Check sprinkler systems for broken or misaligned spray heads. 
  • Water lawns sparingly in evening and early morning only; lawn will typically go dormant in summer and reducing water will not kill it
  • Check indoor faucets and fixtures for leaks and repair promptly. Find helpful tips here