Utah has one of the fastest growing populations in the nation. It is also the second driest state in the US. This combination has made an already scarce resource that much more vulnerable. Water is like gold in the desert. In fact, it may be even more valuable. Without it, growth would come to a halt. According to the Utah Division of Water Resources, in 2010, the 952,000 acre feet of water diverted to Utah supported nearly 81,000 businesses, $90 billion in aggregate personal income and $118,000 billion in gross state product.
To maintain Utah’s quality of life, while preparing for a population explosion that is projected to double Utah’s population by 2060, we must maintain our current water infrastructure, conserve the water we have, and develop new water sources. Water Smart: Water Efficient (Tips from the 4 Largest Water Providers in Utah) The four largest water providers in the state, Central Utah Water Conservancy District, Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, Washington County Water Conservancy District and Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, supply water to nearly 85% of the state’s population. More than half of the water used by Utah households is for outdoor watering. While it is great to take shorter showers, wash laundry on condensed cycles and always wash a full load, and turn off the water while brushing your teeth, the most effective single thing you can do to conserve water is to use outdoor water more efficiently.
7 Steps to a Beautiful and Healthy Yard
- Planning and Design
Planning comprehensively allows homeowners to tailor their landscapes to their particular needs and interests. Place plants in the proper areas of the landscape according to the plant’s light, water, and space requirements.
- Soil Analysis
Clay soils and sandy soils both present problems for water efficiency. Adding compost to soils and cycling sprinkler times can greatly increase water-efficiency. (extension.usu.edu)
- Plant Selection
Select plants that are appropriate for the climate and soil in your area. Group plants with similar light and water needs in the same areas.
- Lawn Areas
Remember to create lawn areas of practical size and locate them where they will be most used. Consider planting grasses such as tall fescue that require less water than traditional bluegrass.
- Efficient Watering
Water infrequently and deeply in order to encourage plants to develop deep root systems. Consider using drip tubing to water trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals.
- Use of Mulches
Spreading a 3” layer of mulch in planting beds and under trees and shrubs helps cool the soil and minimize evaporation, prevent erosion and inhibit weed growth.
- Proper Yard Care
All landscapes require regular maintenance. Pruning, correct watering, and disease and pest monitoring will keep your plants healthy.
Ways You Can Make a Difference in Your Yard
- Use plants that are tolerant to your climate, soils and low water use or are native
- Group plants according to their water needs
- Be mindful of a site’s exposure to the elements and choose plants that will thrive in the site’s conditions.
- Minimize steep slopes. SOIL
- Aerate your soil. Aerating your soil with a simple lawn aerator can increase the infiltration of water into the ground, improve water flow to the plant’s root zone and reduce water runoff.
- Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants.
- Raise your lawn mower cutting height. Longer grass promotes deeper roots that are more tolerant to drought.
- Provide regular maintenance. Replace mulch and remove weeds and thatch as necessary.
- Minimize or eliminate fertilizer. Fertilizer encourages thirsty new growth, causing your landscape to require additional water.
- Adjust your sprinkler system with the seasons.
- Set sprinklers to water only things that grow—not streets, patios or sidewalks.
- Cycle watering time if water run off occurs.
- Inspect your sprinkler system each time after you mow the lawn. Run the system and look for leaks, broken or clogged heads, and other problems.
- Install low-volume drip systems for gardens, trees, and shrubs.
- Don’t overwater. If you step on your lawn and the grass springs back, it does not need to be watered. Watering plants too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease, fungus, and storm water runoff.
- Cover swimming pools to eliminate approximately 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of water lost every year to evaporation.
Different Watering Techniques for Different Soil Types
- Clay: Clay soil can only absorb ¼ inch of water an hour. Adjust your timer to allow one hour between each watering cycle. This type of soil can absorb more water if a second cycle is initiated within an hour or two after the first.
- Sand: Water spreads out and down quickly through sandy soil and less water is needed to wet the roots.
- Slope: Steeper slopes in yards can cause water to run off or pool. If you notice this occurring, you are watering one area too long. Simply water your lawn in several shorter cycles. This will allow the first cycle of water to sink in, creating suction for future watering cycles.
Central Utah, Jordan Valley, Wasatch County and Weber Basin Water Conservancy Districts all offer rebates for homeowners, or grants for businesses, who make water conserving upgrades to their systems. You must live within the boundaries of the district to which you are applying for a grant or rebate. For more information, go to your district’s website.
Tips for Conserving Outdoor Water
- Start watering your lawn later in the year. This will cause your lawn’s roots to grow deeper and be stronger.
- Tolerate some brown spots. Blue grass wants to go dormant in the summer, it is alright to let it do so.
- Use the water guide above to adjust your sprinkler control system for the season.
- Don’t water in heat, rain or wind. (8 pm-8 am only)
- If possible, re-landscape using plants that fit the local climate and group plants with similar watering needs together. i.e. put shrubs and lawn in separate sprinkler zones.
- If you only do one thing, try watering your lawn one less day a week than you currently do. You’ll be surprised at how well it does. You’ll also save about 1500 gallons of water, depending on the size of your lawn.
Indoor Water Use Tips
• Install low-flow faucet aerators. This saves approximately 1,000 gallons of water per faucet per year.
• Repair leaky faucets, toilets and other fixtures. These repairs will save the average homeowner 10,000 gallons of water per year.
• Take showers instead of baths.
• Turn off the water when brushing teeth and shaving.
• Plug your sink when hand washing dishes.
• Dispose of food waste in the trash or your compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.
• Purchase high efficiency appliances and wash only full loads using the appropriate water level.
• Replace toilets with high efficiency toilets.
For more information go to:
centralutahgardens.org (Salt Lake, Utah, Wasatch, Duchesne, Uintah, Juab, Sanpete and Summit Counties,)
jvwcd.org and conservationgardenpark.org (Salt Lake County Residents)
wcwcd.org/conservation (Washington County)
weberbasin.com/conservation (Davis, Weber, Summit, Morgan and Box Elder Counties)
uasd.org (State-wide district information)
FIRST RESPONDER SAFETY TIPS
WHEN RESPONDING TO A WATER PIPE BREAK:
• Clear the area of bystanders. The water may undercut paved areas.
• Do not park near the water break, you don’t want emergency vehicles falling through the road.
• Geysers created by the pressure inside a pipe can throw large rocks and debris a long distance, causing property damage and injuring bystanders. Keep the public away!
• Be familiar with your local water suppliers in case you are the first responder.
• Have a list with emergency contact #’s for your local water suppliers easily accessible for dispatch and law enforcement.
• In some cases, flooding caused by a water pipe break must be diverted to prevent damage to homes. Working jointly with the water supplier will make this process more efficient.
• Contact the water conservancy district that serves your area to schedule training for your personnel.
• Report all suspicious water flows in streets and gutters to the local water supplier.
Swift Water Rescue Tips
As the temperatures rise and the snow pack melts, people get excited to be outdoors and near water. Often, people don’t understand the strength of rivers and creeks and can get into serious trouble quickly. If you are the first responder, and search and rescue has not arrived with proper recue gear, you may be placed in the position to attempt a swift water rescue. There are three things all first responders should remember:
Reach – Throw – Row – and as a last resort Go
Jared Hansen, Water Rights Manager for Central Utah Water Conservancy District and Captain with the Utah County Search and Rescue, gives the following advice—“If at all possible, you always want to stay out of the Swift Water Rescue Tips water when performing a rescue. Reach, if possible, using your arms, a night stick, a shovel–anything that you can use to reach them. Throw something that floats, ideally a life ring with a rope, secondly a rope in a throw bag. Lastly is to go and, quite frankly, Troopers and the gear they carry are not conducive to water rescue