Salt Lake City enters Stage 1 of Water Shortage Contingency Plan

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – As the state of Utah continues to experience a drought – 100% of the state is experiencing moderate drought, and 90% of the state experiencing extreme drought – Salt Lake City officials are preparing to give an update on the city’s water conservation.

Because of the mountain snowpack and stream flows projected to be well below average this spring, Mayor Erin Mendenhall has declared Stage 1 Advisory for water conservation in keeping with Salt Lake City’s Five-stage Water Shortage Contingency Plan.

“We want to invite and encourage everyone in our City, as well as the other municipalities we serve, to look at ways to reduce their water use, increase their water use efficiency and eliminate any water waste,” Mayor Mendenhall says. “We can prevent any serious shortages for the rest of the year through conservation by planning and preparing now, today.”

Officials say stream flow in local creeks that help supply water to Salt Lake City’s service area is anticipated to be 43-61% of average this year, based on data collected by the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities.

While regional snowpack has improved since early February to about 75% in the Central Wasatch Watershed, soil moisture is exceptionally low, contributing to inefficient spring runoff.

The canyon watersheds east of the City provide nearly 60% of the water supply to more than 360,000 residents.   

On March 17, Governor Spencer Cox issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency in Utah.

The City’s Stage 1 Advisory is educational and meant to inform the community of best conservation practices to stretch the water supply in high-demand season.

According to officials, the Water Shortage Contingency Plan outlines five water shortage stages triggered by supply levels, stream flows, and water demand.

The Water Shortage Contingency Plan outlines five water shortage stages triggered by supply levels, stream flows, and water demand; it also provides recommendations for actions within each stage aimed at reducing water demand to levels that reflect current supply and future water needs.

“Stage 1 is voluntary, with the goal of sending a message that everyone can help us avoid potential shortages this season and in future drought years by simply being mindful about their water use,” says SLCDPU Director Laura Briefer, who advises the Mayor on contingency stages. “We are asking residents, businesses, institutions, including City departments, to implement simple and cost-effective measures to conserve water.”

Mayor Mendenhall says city departments and divisions will be mindful in reducing outdoor water and in testing equipment for maximum watering efficiency as temperatures rise.

The Salt Lake City Fire Department will also take part in conservation measures by conducting “dry” fire hydrant inspections only to assess proper working order for fire flows.

“Rather than opening up hydrants in this low-water year, we will inspect and lubricate hydrant caps, inspect their paint and check to make sure hydrants have proper clearance,” explains Fire Chief Karl Lieb. 

Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Services says it will actively monitor water use in managed parks and facilities, according to Director Lorna Vogt.

Residents are encouraged to report broken sprinklers and irrigation systems they may see in City parks and on building grounds via the SLC Mobile app.

Mayor Mendenhall is asking all residents and businesses to take a few simple actions to conserve now, which may also prevent the need for moving to a more restrictive stage of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan:

  • Sign up for a free water check from a 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. 
  • Check indoor faucets and fixtures for leaks and repair promptly. Find helpful tips here
  • Take advantage of the City’s water-saving tips for a water-wise landscape and garden. 
  • Read the Salt Lake City Water Shortage Contingency Plan for complete information on the five stages for addressing water shortage and drought.  

Based on the plan, Salt Lake City would enter Stage 2, a Mild Stage, is initiated if supply conditions worsen and relies on voluntary cooperation and support of water customers to meet target consumption goals. During this stage, the city says specific voluntary actions are suggested for all customers. Specific mandatory actions are identified for municipal customers, including parks, golf courses, schools, and government facilities.

For more water-saving tips, go to https://slowtheflow.org/

For more about water conservation in Salt Lake City, go to: https://www.slc.gov/utilities/conservation/

For more on Utah’s current drought conditions, go to: https://www.drought.gov/states/utah

You can see the full Salt Lake City Water Shortage Contingency Plan below:

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