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Water Conservation: It All Starts With You

If you live in Utah, the Utah Division of Water Resources estimates you will use 240 gallons of water today.

“Because it doesn’t rain much and our population is growing quickly,” said Steve Barfuss, a research associate professor at Utah State University’s Utah Water Research Laboratory, “we have to learn as a population to be more careful with the resource we have.”

Barfuss works with water engineer students to prepare them to work in states, like Utah, to find ways to meet public demands for water.  

“I mean, primarily, we don't care about the lawns,” Barfuss said, “we care that people have water to drink and to bathe and to take care of themselves.”

Utah has the second lowest annual rainfall, yet the people living here use the most water per capita in the United States, according to Joshua Palmer, the section manager of water efficiency education and engagement for the Utah Division of Water Resources.

“So, we see water conservation as an ethic” Palmer said. “It’s just, you know, whether we have a bunch of wet years in a row or whether we have a bunch of dry years in a row, we really should consistently just be using water wisely, no matter what.”

The division has created a Weekly Lawn Watering Guide, an online map that gives specific watering directions for each county. The goal is to have all Utahns take the time to study and then follow the recommended water usage guide. If residents can do that, Palmer said Utah could save more than 20 billion gallons of water per year.

“As the population is simultaneously growing,” Palmer said, “we need to make sure that that water is there for people.”

For example, from Aug. 4 to Aug. 10, Cache County residents are recommended to irrigate their lawns only twice this week, compared to residents in Washington County who should water three times.

Turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth or not watering your lawn every day, are simple ways to save water. Palmer said it’s important for people to remember that water conservation is a team effort and each victory should be celebrated.

He said it’s necessary for people to look at the long-term goal of water conservation, as every drop of water that is saved is beneficial to future generations.  

State officials are hoping the map will lead to a directive by Utah Governor Gary Herbert to reduce water consumption per capita in the state by 25 percent by the year 2025. Right now, Utah is at the 18 percent conservation mark, meaning that in eight years time, water usage needs to be reduced by seven percent.