SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — Salt Lake City, in collaboration with Utah State University (USU) and Salt Lake City Public Utilities, is proud to introduce new water conservation tools to help residents better manage their water usage.

With the integration of the Water Management Analysis and Planning Software (WaterMAPS) developed by USU, these tools provide valuable insights into water conservation for individual properties. As the spring runoff season concludes, the city is once again shifting its focus toward water conservation efforts. 

Mayor Mendenhall commends the remarkable commitment of Salt Lake City residents to water conservation. Last year, the city achieved savings of nearly 3 billion gallons of water—an astonishing accomplishment. However, Mayor Mendenhall believes there is room for further improvement and emphasizes the importance of continued efforts in conserving this vital resource. 

Salt Lake City residents primarily use metered culinary water for irrigation, prompting the city to explore innovative ways to conserve residential water usage. Laura Briefer, Director of Salt Lake City Public Utilities, highlights that water conservation is not only crucial for extending the existing water supply but also plays a vital role in ensuring resilience during droughts and addressing declining water levels in the Great Salt Lake. 

The new software developed by Utah State University leverages water meter data, local weather information, and a simplified map of vegetation types to calculate a landscape irrigation ratio. This ratio, accessible to both residents and the City Public Utilities, provides valuable insights into the efficiency of outdoor water usage. “Essentially, this program gives each resident the ability to see how much water can be conserved on their landscape,” says Briefer.  

Analyses of water data for the city indicate that approximately 50% of single-family residences are already watering their landscapes efficiently. Previous studies have shown that the implementation of the WaterMAPS tool can potentially increase conservation efforts by an impressive 30%. 

Professor Joanna Endter-Wada from USU expresses confidence in achieving similar results, stating, “We expect to see savings of around 30%, which has been consistent over the past several years.” 

Individual customer reports are now available through the Salt Lake City Public Utilities website. These reports allow residents to track their Landscape Irrigation Ratio over the past five years and discover effective ways to conserve water. 

Professor Joanna Endter-Wada emphasizes the importance of identifying inefficient water use locations and offers conservation programs or outreach initiatives to increase awareness among residents. 

Professor Endter-Wada aims to dispel the misconception that water conservation requires compromising the beauty of one’s landscape. With the new tools and resources, residents can keep their yards healthy while significantly reducing water consumption. 

The partnership between Utah State University and Salt Lake City Public Utilities marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of water conservation. By utilizing the WaterMAPS software and providing residents with valuable insights and tools, Salt Lake City is leading the way toward sustainable water management. Th