Water conservation urged as nearly 70% of Utah under exceptional drought conditions

Local News

Courtesy: Utah Division of Water Resources

(ABC4 News) — Utah’s dear friend Mother Nature seems to be taking her own path this winter when it comes to delivering moisture. 

“We are currently in an unprecedented drought that we haven’t seen nor felt since drought monitoring began in 1999,” ABC4 Meteorologist Adam Carroll says. 

Carroll says 69% of the state is currently under exceptional drought conditions, the highest level on the drought monitor.

Salt Lake City has measured 1.38″ of precipitation since the start of a new water year, which began on October 1. This is the second driest start to any water year in history since record-keeping began in 1874.

So far this year, Salt Lake City has measured 7.7″ of snowfall this season.

“This is less seasonal snow than Amarillo, Midland, Lubbock, and Abilene, Texas. Normally, Salt Lake City receives 27″ to this point in the winter season,” Carroll shares. 

Though Utah mountains have received some snow this year, Utah’s snowpack numbers are bleak and well below normal. 

According to Carroll, snowpack is one of the primary variables that helps improve a drought but also provides the necessary water in our lakes and reservoirs to get us through another dry summer season.

“With little to no precipitation in the forecast over the next week, our drought situation becomes drier by the week,” Carroll adds. 

Utah is already one of the driest states and this year being on par to be record-breaking, the Utah Division of Water Resources is asking Utahns to start conserving their water. 

“We haven’t gotten the snow we need and it’s going to take the work of Mother Nature to get us out of it. Whether it’s a wet or dry year, saving water is ALWAYS important,” the Utah Division of Water Resources shares.

Officials say water saving in the winter months is just as important as it is during the summer.

“Whether it’s a wet or dry year, every drop counts,” Marcie McCartney, water conservation manager for the Division of Water Resources tells ABC4 News. “We never know what Mother Nature has in store – and this year is looking particularly dismal – so using water wisely now will help keep more water in our reservoirs.” 

“Winter is a great time to evaluate your indoor usage and look for ways to save,“ explains McCartney. “Consider fixing leaks and replacing an inefficient dishwasher or washer with a water-efficient model. There are also rebates available for low-flow toilets and irrigation smart controllers.”

Salt Lake City Public Utilities recommends the following efforts to conserve water indoors this winter. 

  • Only run the dishwasher when it is full
  • Set the washing machine for the appropriate load level
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your hands
  • Store a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for drinking so you won’t have to let the faucet run to get cold water
  • Don’t use the toilet as a trash can. Flush only toilet tissue.

According to Salt Lake City Public Utilities, letting the water run while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing dishes can waste 3 to 5 gallons a minute. That adds up to about 20,000 wasted gallons a year at home.

See the chart below to see how much water can we wasted doing daily tasks.

Courtesy: Salt Lake Public Utilities

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