OGDEN — As the population continues to project upward along most of the Wasatch Front, and water increasingly becomes a resource in need of protection, Ogden City is working to reduce the amount of H2O used up by its residents.
The city is currently updating its Water Conversation Plan — driven by a goal to reduce culinary water consumption per capita by about 10% over the next 45 years. Ogden Public Utilities Manager Brady Herd said the city’s plan is to bring the current per capita water usage of 193 gallons per day to 175 gallons per day by 2065.
The plan includes a host of measures to achieve the goal, from internal measures within the city like fixing old infrastructure and detecting leaks in the water system, to external efforts like public information campaigns and providing conservation incentives to residents.
Incorporated in 1851, Ogden is one of Utah’s oldest cities and though it’s essentially built-out right now, the plan poses that the population of about 88,000 will still increase by 18,000 to 20,000 residents by 2065. Even with conservation measures, the plan says, overall water usage is expected to increase in Ogden by 2065. The city measures total usage in acre-feet, and the plan assumes an increase in overall water usage from 19,311 acre-feet in 2015 to 21,295 acre-feet in 2065.
Herd said the proposed reduction in per capita usage will allow the city to supply the needed water to residents without the need for additional infrastructure.
According to City Council documents, Ogden’s culinary water system is one of the largest in Utah and includes approximately 359 miles of water line. Herd said recent capital improvements to the system will help the city reach its conservation goal. The city’s water master plan, which was completed in 2018, had previously identified areas that need upgrades. Deteriorated pipes in need of replacement are handled according to known system deficiencies and as failures occur, according to the master plan. The city is working to establish a replacement schedule so that pipes are replaced prior to total failure.
Water, sanitary and storm sewer systems in Ogden all have a significant backlog in infrastructure maintenance and replacement work. Some of Ogden’s water pipes are more than 90-years-old, but the city’s goal is to replace pipes after just 80 years of service. The city figures the 80-year benchmark will, for the most part, stop major failures within the system and prevent the population from having to deal with any significant interruptions in utility service.
Ogden’s water metering system is also one of the largest in Utah, according to council documents, and includes more than 24,000 individual meters. The city recently implement a program to replace the old meters, which Herd has said will save water, improve meter reading efficiency, accuracy and access to water information for residents.
With regular droughts and surging development that continues to put pressure on supplies, water has been an ongoing issue along the Wasatch Front for years, but the matter is compounded in Ogden and there’s one key factor complicating things. According to city council documents, just under 50% of city residents have access to secondary water, meaning many are required to use culinary water for their outdoor watering needs.
Secondary water rates throughout the city vary depending on the provider, but even with those variations, it’s generally much less expensive to irrigate a yard with secondary water than it is with culinary water. Ogden City’s water rates are based on meter size, water usage and access to secondary water.