West Jordan - Water conservation should be top of mind as we head into summer. Our warmer-than-normal winter and low snowpack in the mountains worries agencies who deliver water to Salt Lake County residents. According to the National Weather Service, a monitoring station at Snowbird, where snowpack normally has 41 inches of water in mid-April, had just under 21 inches. That makes it the second driest year in the past 25 years. In Big Cottonwood Canyon, the Brighton monitoring gauge was the driest it has been in 29 years. Salt Lake City Public Utilities, which manages the watershed in the county’s Wasatch Mountains, has said its goal is to conserve as much water as possible in the reservoirs, should the pattern persist next year. Salt Lake City has issued a “stage one advisory,” letting water users know to conserve. Similar warnings are being issued by other utilities, including the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, which also supplies water in Salt Lake County.
Fortunately, there are steps that all of us--including government-- can take now to ensure that we get through the hot summer months ahead.
Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, which uses water in parks, golf courses, swimming pools, ice rinks and recreation centers, has a comprehensive list of “best practices” that is followed by managers and employees. Parks and Recreation is already actively managing its water use in order to keep over 5,000 acres of park space enjoyable.
Parks irrigation systems are inspected weekly and malfunctioning components are adjusted or replaced as needed. All 104 county parks are aerated at a minimum of twice a year. Aeration allows water to quickly reach the roots and reduces the amount of water applied. Ninety-one of the 104 parks are on a computer-controlled central irrigation control system. It monitors the moisture content level in the turf at each park, and the amount of water applied is adjusted based on climate conditions and rainfall. As current systems age, or fail, we are phasing in new technology in an effort to improve efficiency. If needed, due to water restrictions, our managers are able to “brown out” passive turf areas while applying enough water to keep the trees and other grassy areas alive.
With respect to our recreation and golf facilities, older toilets, urinals, showers and faucets have been converted to low flow models, saving thousands of gallons of water each day. Swimming pool water is recirculated and water is only added as needed for required operation. All new Parks and Recreation facilities are designed to a minimum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Standard, which includes strong water efficiency requirements.
Utahns consume about 240 gallons of water per person per day. As our population increases, one way to help meet future demand is through conservation. Utah has a goal of reducing per capita water consumed by 25 percent in 2025. So far, we’ve conserved 18 percent, so we’re on the right track.