LAYTON — Northern Utah’s water supply situation is looking solid after a good reservoir storage season and a rainy June.
But 96% of the state remained in drought condition at the end of June, a 6% increase over May.
So there is reason for optimism locally, but water abundance is always threatened in the drought-prone West, a constant reason to conserve, and conserve more, officials say.
The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, based in Layton, has installed 10,000 meters for customers on its secondary water system and still wants to more than double that, said Darren Hess, assistant general manager.
“Overall, we are pushing the conservation message really hard,” Hess said Monday. “There are a lot of well-intentioned people, but they really don’t think about it too much.”
Secondary water meter users get monthly reports of their irrigation water usage that show whether they’re using too much.
“We want to get people help to understand how much water they’re really throwing out on their yards,” Hess said.
Skip one lawn watering cycle a week and 3,000 to 4,000 gallons is saved, he said.
That’s about half the total of drinking water the typical home uses in a month, he said.
“Help from the outdoor water user goes a long way,” he said, but many of those without meters probably “just don’t give it a second thought.”
Heavy rains in June gave an opportunity to cut secondary water use for several days afterward, but it was lost by those who didn’t adjust their automated systems.
Weber Basin has a learning garden at its headquarters, 2837 E. Highway 193, that features plants ideal for low water use landscaping. The district also has an indoor water efficiency research center and offers classes on conservation and plant growth.
The Utah Climate and Water Report, released July 1 by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, said Northern Utah’s valleys received 2.5 inches of rain in June, compared to the statewide average of 1 inch.
But the statewide average of 7 inches so far in the water year, which runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, remained below average.
And in June the percentage of the state to be considered in severe drought boomed to 48%, compared with 15% in May.
Soil conditions statewide are below normal as well, the report said.
Reservoir storage is the bright spot statewide. The report said Utah’s reservoirs are 84% full on average.
In the Weber Basin’s five-county area — Weber, Davis, Morgan, Summit and southern Box Elder — the four major reservoirs are mostly full.
Pineview is at 84%; East Canyon and Lost Creek, 94% each; and Rockport, 96%
“Our reservoirs are really good because of carryover from last year, which was a really good water year,” Hess said.
This year started off well above average, with snowfall at 120% of normal in February and the first part of March.
“Then all of a sudden it just shut off in the middle of March,” Hess said, and April was one of Utah’s driest months on record.
“So the spring runoff was not what we hoped it would be, but we were still able to almost fill most of the reservoirs,” he said.