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Sprinklers water a lawn in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 7, 2021. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox issues his third water restriction in four months. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
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Officials Urge Utahns To Follow Extreme Drought Watering Guide

SALT LAKE CITY — As extreme drought conditions intensify, the Utah Division of Water Resources has replaced its traditional lawn watering guide with an “Extreme Watering Guide.”

They made the change Friday to reflect the necessity of cutting back to preserve Utah’s water supply.

State leaders expect counties, cities, and businesses to cut back, along with everyone else. On Tuesday, Gov. Spencer Cox said all state facilities would cut back to watering twice a week, until further notice.

The State Division of Water Resources has made that recommendation for everyone for the entire summer.

Next week, temperatures will soar into the 100s. The watering guide in 2020 would have bumped northern Utah up to three waterings a week, but not this year.

“With the extreme drought conditions that are persisting, and following the governor’s recommendations, we changed the guide,” said Candice Hasenyager, deputy director of the Utah Division of Water Resources.

The “Extreme Watering Guide” replaced the regular watering guide, urging everyone to water only twice a week in most of the state, with three waterings for southern Utah.

The watering guide can be found on the division’s water conservation website

“It’s really focusing on survival of plants, rather than thriving at this point, considering the extreme drought,” said Hasenyager.

The state urged all Utahns to prioritize their watering: trees first, then shrubs, flowers and grass — with minimal watering to keep grass alive. 

“Your grass is resilient,” said Hasenyager. “Even though it may yellow and be stressed, it will come back when conditions improve, but it will survive on two times a week in northern Utah and three in southern Utah.”

As Director of Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, Martin Jensen overseas county parks, golf courses and open spaces. It’s a big infrastructure with a lot of irrigation.

“We’re doing everything to try and save that precious resource,” said Jensen.

He said the county delayed watering as long as it could this spring and put in a smart irrigation system.

“It monitors the weather. It monitors the soil moisture so we know where in the turf areas we’re responsible for need to be watered,” said Jensen. “It’s no longer the set it and forget it and walk away.”

The county has prioritized high-use sports fields and trees.

“If our parks end up being a little drier than we would prefer, we hope residents will be patient with us and understand that we’re also trying to do everything we can to save water,” said Jensen.

With 60% of Utah residential water used on outdoor landscapes, the state has asked everyone to look for ways to save.

Experts said eliminating just one watering can save about 3,000 gallons for the average quarter-acre-size Utah yard.

More drought actions and water-saving tips can be found at slowtheflow.org.

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