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Water Related Diversions

About the Author

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Eric Jones, P.E. has been working for the Division of Water Resources for 4 years in the Water Conservation and Education section. He loves Utah and the limitless more

Utah's Water Conservation Blog

Water Conservation Updates and Ideas

DWRe's Water Conservation

Slow the Flow Website

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  • How do you use your water?
  • Mainting a Greenscape Wisely
  • Self Examination
"...Utah must also conserve our precious water. In the year 2000 we set a target to use 25% less water by the year 2050, and we’ve already reduced our consumption by 18%. So let's go one step further. Let's cut the time in half, and achieve that goal by the year 2025." -Governor Herbert

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How We Track Utah's Water Use Numbers

As promised this week’s entry will be about how we track Utah’s water usage. This topic could be summed up in one simple sentence. But I am an engineer so why simply say, “We call the water providers and they give us their water usage numbers.” That is boring. Instead I will say the following: It all started long ago before you..th or my children were born, before we had fancy luxuries in our lives. Before the invention of touch screens, smart phones and social media websites. I am talking of a time so raw that oftentimes people would call each other on the phone and have long drawn out conversation. This of course was the primitive way humans would find out if Skyler had the baby or if Walter got that new job he so desperately needed. In Utah the tracking of water usage is part of the law. Therefore, the water use program is a joint effort shared between US Geological Survey, Utah Divisions of Water Rights, Drinking Water and Water Resources. The purpose of this program is to collect and compile water use and water diversion data from public water suppliers throughout the state. This data is to be submitted annually to Division of Water Rights. Every 5 years the Division of Water Resources performs a more in depth look at the data provided. Enter the telephone. Per assignment members of the Conservation and Education section contact every public community and public non-community water provider. Here is your random trivia question of the day what is the difference between a public community and public non-community water provider? The answer is not Crystal Blue. A public community system is one that provides water to at least 15 connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents. Whereas a non-community systems do not serve 25 of the same non-resident persons per day for more than six months per year. If you are still confused look at the pictures below.

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Maybe this would be a good place to tell why we are even doing this. In the year 2000 former Governor Leavitt set a goal for Utahns to reduce their water usage from 295 to 220 gallons per capita per day (gpcd). This was a very reasonable goal. In order to see if we are reaching this goal we must track our progress. How can you know where to go if you don’t know where you have been? The goal’s original termination date was 2050 but Governor Herbert having confidence in Utah’s water conservation effort has moved the deadline up to 2025. Utah’s current consumption is 240 gpcd.

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In the near future we will look at the breakdown of how you use your 240 gpcd. But for now more exciting data tracking. Okay even using words like exciting can’t make data collection intriguing. It is however a necessary step of Utah’s water conservation effort. As Utah strives to work together to maintain the luxuries we have today for future generations water conservation or better said proper water use for our environment is in an integral part of goal.

We told you how we track Utah's water conservation numbers. Stay tuned for the next blog entry about how you probably use your 240 gallons per day.

Where You Can Conserve Daily

Let’s begin this post by defining the word Conserve. Conserve is to keep in a safe or sound state: to avoid wasteful or destructive use of. That is definition 1 from Merriam-Webster. It also means to preserve with sugar or to maintain constant during a process of chemical, physical or evolutionary change. However awesome it would be to conserve water by preserving it with sugar we will be discussing definition 1 as it pertains to our water supply. I remember a discussion I had with a cousin-in-law (those exist right) about what I do for a living. After I informed him I work on the Water Conservation program he quickly retorted with, “How do you conserve water?” He went onto explain that he uses water and when he is done with it the water either goes to a treatment plant then to the river or into the groundwater then to a river or aquifer. I don’t like to talk to people so I nodded to him. Upon completion of my nodding I said the following, “We when talk about the water conservation program we are really just talking about taking jars of water and preserving them with sugar for future generations. Kind of like jam.” A blank stare was returned. Really though when we talk about water conservation we are talking about keeping our supply in a safe or sound state and avoiding the wasteful or destructive use of our supply for future generations. They say, “Every generation blames the one before and all of their frustrations come beating on the door.” If this generation can conserve now then future generations can only blame themselves for poor water supplies. Isn’t that what we really want, the ability to push blame?

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Note: 2009 Young Poster Contest Grand Prize Winner Rachel Bauer

There are two types of water conservation we deal with, Engineered and Behavioral. Engineered Conservation comes through modifications to plumbing, fixtures, appliances or water supply operating procedures. Unless you have a time machine and are purchasing old appliances or fixtures you are currently involved in the engineered side of water conservation. So congratulations! One thing that you can do on the engineering side of water conservation that will save a lot of water is check for leaky faucets and plumbing joints. The $10,000 question (for those of you that love the original game show) is; are you currently involved on the Behavioral side of water conservation? Behavioral Conservation occurs when people change their water use habits (hopefully for the better). If you answered, “No” to the $10,000 water conservation question (see above question) then here are some follow up questions you can ask yourself, with the answers.

When you brush your teeth do you let the faucet run the entire time?
Yes. Oh my stars don’t you know you can save roughly 3,000 gallons of water per year if you would turn the faucet off while you brush?!
No. Good job you deserve a cookie.

Do you take ‘long’ showers (More than 10 minutes)?
Yes. Oh my stars don’t you know that you could save over 4,500 gallons of water per year! (Reducing shower time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes)
No. Good job you deserve to snuggle up on the couch with a good book.

Do you run the dishwasher before it is completely full?
Yes. Oh my stars don’t you know you are not using water or energy efficiently when you do this?
No. Good job you are an efficient user of water and energy!

Do you use your toilet as wastebasket?
Yes. Come on people, don’t you know you are not supposed to do that? Every time you flush you use 1.6 gallons of water let’s make sure that the water is taking something with it not just a used tissue.
No. Well done.

Do you water your lawn during the hot times of the day? (In between 10AM and 6 PM)
Yes. Oh my heavens, doing this you will need to run your sprinklers longer in order to provide your lawn with the necessary water.
No. Phew good job. (Another blog post will discuss the proper way to water your lawn including frequency and volume)

Do you use a broom to clean your driveway?
Yes. Yeah good job!
No. If you use your hose shame on you. You waste a lot of water doing this.

These are just a few examples of how you can change your behavior to be a better water steward. Making these small adjustments now will save more than a half-million gallons of water during your lifetime. Smokey the Bear tells us, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Well Wetty the Droplet (She is not a real mascot) says, “Only you can keep our water supply in a safe or sound state.” She also says, “Avoiding wasteful water use will save you money and thirst.” Or something along those lines. Just keep in mind our water supply is not your personal supply. We share the water with our neighbors and with the environment. Reckless water use affects all things!

Why We Need to Conserve Water Today

Often times when I think about Utah’s need to conserve water I think about pizza. Pizza you ask why or how can you think about pizza when you are talking about water conservation? I love pizza; I think everything about pizza is great. It generally comes as a circle, what a beautiful geometric shape. Anyway I digress, pizza and population growth. In our house we currently have two children a 3-year old and a 1-year old and they love pizza. Well love is a strong word for their joy felt while eating pizza. I love pizza and want them to love pizza. Currently a single pizza for dinner is broken into percentages, 3-year old gets 5%, 1-year gets 5% (he usually eats more than she), mom gets 10% and dad (me) gets 80% to be consumed either for that meal or subsequent meals, did I mention I love pizza? I enjoy every moment of my pizza consumption at this point in my life; did you see the percent that I get to eat? The pizza is more than ample for our family at its current population. But as I often do I think of the future and wonder how many more mouths are going to take a piece of my pizza? How much more will my son eat when he is a teenager? Will we have to bring in extra pizzas for dinner? How will that affect the cost of dinner per person? Will our per person cost/consumption remain the same? Seeing how it affects our wallets will we consume less? As you can tell dinner conversation at our house is always riveting. I enjoy asking my 3-year old these questions, well mostly I enjoy the vacant stares from her and brother as I try to excite their minds into pondering these important questions. Okay I know this blog is supposed be about water and not pizza but once I get going on pizza it is hard for me to stop. Here is the correlation.

Did you know that since 2000 Utah is the second fastest growing state in the US? The population has increased by more than 520,000 people to approximately 2.8 million. At this rate, Utah is sprouting another city approximately the size of Salt Lake City (2010 population 186,440) about every four years.

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Note: Population growth ranking are estimated from 2000-2010

According to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, Utah’s rapid growth will continue, with the population increaseing to 6 million by 2060. As Utah’s population blossoms, so will the demand for Utah’s limited water resources. If Utah’s municipal and industrial (M&I) water demands increase at the same rate as its population growth, the future demand will be much greater than existing developed supplies. So just as one pizza will not satisfy my family’s hunger in a few short years so too will the water supply not be adequate for our state’s population at our current water consumption rates. There is not an infinite supply of fresh water in the State of Utah or anywhere. Therefore, using water wisely and conserving water in every aspect of life will bring a reduction in water demand that will help water suppliers meet their future needs.

What are the other options we have to meet future water demands of Utah? We can always develop new water supplies. I guess always is an exaggeration. We can develop new water supplies within reason; this of course depends on several factors, including water rights (not getting into that on this blog), economics of a project, increased efficiency, and the availability of water. Other options to meet future water demands of Utah’s citizens would be the conversion of agricultural water to Municipal water (Water Terms Defined). Out of these options water conservation is the least expensive and most efficient way to meet some of Utah’s future needs. It will be combination of all options that will satisfy Utah’s future water demands. However every citizen will need to do their part in order to have enough water for the future. Benefits of your water conservation efforts include:

  • Increase annual water levels in reservoirs
  • Postpone construction of large water development projects
  • Delay expensive capital investments to upgrade or expand existing water facilities
  • Reduce sewage flows, delaying the need for more wastewater treatment facilities
  • Conserve energy as less water needs to be treated, pumped and distributed to the consumer
  • Create a more sustainable way of life, balancing human needs with that of the natural environment

Utah has developed a specific goal to reduce Municipal water use from 295 gallons per person to 220 gallons per person before 2025 (25% reduction). As of 2010 we currently consume 18% less per person than we did in 2000.

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Utah Division of Water Resources
1594 West North temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
phone: 801-538-7230 fax: 801-538-7229

You can contact the author via email ericjones@utah.gov or by phone 801-538-7271

About the author continued...

possibilities for its lands and people. He is married to a wonderful woman that tolerates his unique views on life and their future. Together they have two wonderful children that bring meaning to the work Eric has been performing at the Division. Eric has investigated several issues facing the water conservation efforts of the Division and water providers throughout Utah. Including the cost of water, M&I water use rates, water efficiency rates of the state’s colleges and universities, and how to have a beautiful landscape while using water efficiently. Eric enjoys working for the people of Utah and hopes to be an efficient force in helping Utah reduce their water consumption by 25% before 2025.