(ABC4) – The majority of Utah is currently experiencing an exceptional drought, the highest level of drought that the U.S. Drought Monitor uses in their classification system.
Below is information and resources for Utahns about how bad the drought actually is, statewide and local water restrictions, and how individuals can conserve water. The information comes from the U.S. Drought Monitor and the Utah Division of Water Resources.
The story will be updated every Thursday as new statistics become available.
Utah Drought Conditions as of June 8
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the state is in 100% drought, 90% extreme drought, and 64% exceptional drought, as of June 8.
Nationwide Drought Conditions as of June 8
Utah Division of Water Resources’ Extreme Drought Watering Guide
The Extreme Drought Watering Guide recently replaced the Weekly Watering Guide to help Utahns focus on “survival watering.” The guide will focus on minimal watering in order to keep grass alive while extreme drought conditions exist, the division’s site states.
Historically Observed Impacts of Drought in Utah
In the chart below, D0 represents abnormally dry conditions, D1 represents moderate drought, D2 represents severe drought, D3 represents extreme drought, and D4 represents exceptional drought.
Executive Order 2021-7: Governor Spencer Cox issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency because of drought conditions in the state on March 17. The declaration allows drought affected communities, agricultural producers and others begin accessing state and federal emergency relief.
Executive Order 2021-10: On May 3, Gov. Cox issued an executive order prohibiting irrigation at state facilities between 10 a.m. and 6 a.m., requiring state officials to shut off sprinklers during a rain storm, and to make sure watering equipment was working properly. The order also encouraged local governments to adopt their own water restrictions.
Executive Order 2021-13: On May 13, Gov. Spencer Cox issued a new Executive Order declaring a state of emergency due to drought conditions. It continued the state Emergency Operations Plan and Drought Response Plan first activated on March 17.
Executive Order 2021-10: On June 8, Gov. Cox announced a third drought executive order for the state. He prohibited fire works on all state and unincorporated lands and limited lawn watering at some state facilities to two times per week.
Current Local Water Restrictions
Lehi: Lehi City implemented Phase II of its water restriction plan, which prohibits residents from watering outside areas on consecutive days, or wait 48 hours between waterings. The city plans to educate residents first about the water restrictions, but repeat violators may face fines of up to $500.
Ogden: Outdoor watering is banned from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Those who don’t comply can be fined $50 for the first offense. With additional offenses, residents can expect to pay up to $150.
What can Utahns do to conserve water?
Marcie McCartney, Water Conservation Manager for the Utah Division of Water Resources, says there are things Utahns can do to conserve water, including watering one less time a week.
She says people can develop the mindset that it’s okay for the landscape to be a little brown. In fact, overwatering can have negative effects on the landscape. And watering just one less time per week can save as much as 3,000 gallons of water.
McCartney also recommends using the division’s weekly watering guide (included above), which includes tips and tricks for watering effectively. Prioritizing your watering is another way to conserve water, she says. Trees, shrubs, and perennials require more water than turfgrass.
She also recommends getting a smart irrigation controller, which will monitor how much water is needed and shut off a sprinkler system when necessary.
“We need more people to think before they do,” McCartney adds. She says it’s important to think before lighting a campfire or engaging in target practice. Even before hopping in the shower, people can think about how they are going to save water, she explains.