LAYTON, Utah (ABC4) – The official start to summer is June 21, but the high temperatures across Utah make it feel like summer is here in high gear. Over the last week, drought conditions have worsened for the state. Utahns are reminded to cut back on their watering habits this summer.  

A sign on Oak Hills Dr. Just west of Hwy. 89 in Layton reads: “Pray for rain.” Without a doubt, rain is needed in Layton. It’s needed in all of Utah.  

The U.S. Drought Monitor releases a new map every Thursday with updated drought conditions in each state. This week’s map shows nearly six percent of the state has now entered “exceptional drought.” This is the highest intensity for a drought on the monitor.

One year ago, 64 percent of the state was in the same category. However, just last week none of the states was in “exceptional drought.” 

Currently, 99.88 percent of the state is in “severe drought” and 82.66 percent of the state is in extreme drought.  

As temperatures rise and drought conditions worsen, cities across the state are implementing water restrictions.

“And because of the conservation efforts we had this spring thus far, as well as because of the weather, we are now transitioning to two water days a week,” Layton City Public Information Officer Steve Garside told ABC4.   

Layton City is asking residents to follow restrictions voluntarily. Last summer, residents saved hundreds of thousands of gallons of water when restrictions were imposed. This year, many of the same restrictions are in place.  

The restrictions in place in Layton closely follow the drought-watering guidelines outlined by the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District which provides culinary and secondary water to hundreds of thousands of homes in northern Utah.  

Assistant general manager for the water conservancy district, Jon Parry, told ABC4 that Utahns did extremely well adhering to water-use restrictions last summer. He added that while it is not fun to see restrictions make their way back this year, last year hopefully served as a learning experience to better prepare them for this year.  

“With the two days a week watering, the 20 minutes for your pop-ups, the 40 minutes for your rotors, the grass looked a little stress, it looked a little dry during those July days,” Parry stated, “But when we got the cooler temperatures when the rains came in, things greened back up. Hopefully, that gives people some reassurance.”  

As you’re doing your part to conserve water, slowtheflow.org is a great resource for ideas, tips, and tricks when it comes to water conservation. While many homeowners in northern Utah may water their lawns twice a week, Slow the Flow says they may not always need to water on their regular schedule.  

One easy way to determine if your lawn needs water is to use the screwdriver test. For this test, you simply take a screwdriver and stick it into your lawn until it reaches the handle. When you pull the tool out of the earth there are two signs to look for. If the screwdriver is clean, it is time to water. If the screwdriver is covered in soil, you may still have a few days before your lawn needs water. 

Just recently, Layton City replaced more than 3,300 square feet of sod in city-maintained park strips. More strips are likely to be converted to more drought-resilient landscaping as well. Garside said, “We’re still monitoring which ones we want to transition to more of the xeriscape. Some of those because of safety issues, we will keep in turf.”  

Residents, across the state as well as Layton, are encouraged to follow suit. “By flipping the strip, you can save anywhere from five to 8,000 gallons of water a year by going to a drip system as opposed to the overhead sprinkler head system,” added Garside.  

To encourage homeowners to make the change, many agencies (including Weber Basin Water Conservancy District) have adopted the Flip Your Strip program which offers incentives and rebates to qualifying homeowners who want to update their park strip landscaping.  

To find out more about the Flip Your Strip program, the qualifications for homeowners, or to apply, go to utahwatersavers.com.