Water conservation requires cooperation and education
Low levels of precipitation this winter may have serious consequences for water management in Utah. Laura Haskell, Drought Coordinator with the Utah Division of Water Resources, said working with local communities is essential to understanding and conserving water usage.
“And we all need to work together because we're all we're all using the same limited resource, and we need to share that,” Haskell said.
Joan Meiners, an ecologist and environment reporter at The Spectrum & Daily News in St. George, said Utah has some of the lowest water rates in the southwest. Perhaps because of this, Utah has a high gallons per person per day water usage compared to the national average.
“So one of the other approaches to try to deal with Utah's water concerns is to raise the water rates so that people are financially incentivized to use less water,” Meiners said.
Haskell said educating people without raising rates may encourage water conservation.
"And we've found that if people know how much water they're using, and it's metered – just that education portion of, you know, you're using this much, and you really only need to be using that much; people cut back," Haskell said.
Meiners said, recently, more people have started to pay attention to water in the state.
“I think there's more people aware of the water security concerns, I think there's more people invested in finding solutions, and…so, I think that, you know, we don't have a clear path forward yet, but I think there's a lot more engagement about the problem and desire to find solutions," Meiners said.
The Division of Water Resources holds webinars regularly to connect with Utah residents around the state and assess water conditions. For more information visit drought.utah.gov.