Episode 1: Making the Desert Blossom as a Lawn

Oct 1, 2013

Today on Five Billion Gallons we introduce Utah's water cycle, from rain to lawn, and when it doesn't rain for awhile, which it often doesn't,  there are quite a few steps in between. It turns out that those five billion gallons we use every day in Utah are only accounting for residential water -- the water we use to wash our clothes and our dishes and our hair and also the water we use to water our lawns and backyard gardens. Our per capita use of water is nearly the highest in the nation, just behind Nevada and Idaho. So why are we personally using so much water? According to the state Division of Water Resources, there is a pretty simple answer: it's our legacy. Utah's founders decreed that the desert should be made to blossom as a rose, and it did. It still does. But at what cost?

After water falls from the sky as rain or snow, this graphic shows where it ends up.

Sources: "How Utah Water Works" from the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel; "Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2005" from the U.S. Geological Survey; "Municipal and Industrial Water Use in Utah" from the Utah Division of Water Resources

Five Billion Gallons is a production of Utah Public Radio, supported by Penn State Public Media’s “Think Outside the Pipes” radio initiative.