Salt Lake County launches Water Summit to combat drought

Mar 29, 2022, 6:07 PM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 10:41 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Salt Lake County launched a Water Summit Tuesday to focus on critical issues facing all Utahns during the drought.

The four-part series will be held during the County Council work sessions this spring.

County Mayor Jenny Wilson is encouraging everyone to do their part because there’s no one solution to our water shortage.

The idea behind this four-part summit is to get everyone engaged in saving water because Utah’s supply is dwindling. Water conservation is the new normal, and we all need to save wherever we can.

“We had a really rough water year last year, and then this year, another bad year,” Wilson said.

So, the conservation message from county leaders has already started.

In the summit, county staff and regional experts will share the impact of the drought on our water resources, and present achievable steps residents can take to save the water Utah communities need now and in the future.

“The story of how it melts is kind of the story of how water gets into our reservoirs,” said Bob Thompson, Salt Lake County’s watershed manager.

Thompson gave Tuesday’s presentation on the dire story our snowpack tells this spring. The recent record-breaking warm weather has already started melting the snow.

“If it starts to melt really early and fairly slowly, like it’s doing right now, that leads to less water in the long run,” Thompson said. “So, we do need the water to run off later in the season to make it into those reservoirs.”

Bob Thompson, Salt Lake County watershed manager, gives a presentation on the dire circumstances with snowpack to the County Council.

Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time left in the season to build it back up.

“I think it’s a fair estimate to say that it’s not going to give us the water year that we were all hoping for last fall,” he said.

So, most Utah communities are heading into this spring with less water in the reservoirs than last year. That’s when Wilson challenged county agencies and residents to save at least 5%, and the community responded.

They have an actual measurement for the reduction used by the county. Right now, they are not able to quantify the amount of water saved by all residents in all water districts.

“We actually hit 13% reduction,” Wilson said of the county savings. “So, we’re really excited about that success, but we want to do better this year and we need to.”

As individuals, and collectively, the greatest savings we can make is with outdoor watering.

“We’re suggesting… don’t even think about watering until May, late May, Memorial Day perhaps. Then, let’s be aware of the amount of water that’s needed.”

Water no more than twice a week, and cut down on the time for each area. That was the recommendation from the Utah Division of Water Resources for the majority of last summer.

Wilson recommends sitting down as a family and making water saving goals together to get everyone involved.

Check out SLCOH2O.org for more great ideas on how to save water.
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Salt Lake County launches Water Summit to combat drought