NewsLocal News


Now is not the time to water the lawn, state urges

Australia Dog Sprinkler
Posted at 9:13 PM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-04 00:35:12-04

As Gov. Spencer Cox enacts water usage restrictions on state buildings, the Division of Water Resources is urging Utahns to do the same with their own homes and lawns as the state faces extreme drought conditions.

Watering the front lawn may account for just 6 percent of the entire state's water usage -- which could be looked at as negligible -- but the Division of Water Resources explained that it's actually a huge percentage of the municipal water supply.

In the first yard work session of the season, there's usually a lot to get done. For Sean Black in West Valley City, that meant weed whacking and lawn mowing Monday evening.

His kids joined in the fun, using the blower to clear away debris and pulling up weeds.

However, there is one thing you won't see Black tackling just yet-- his sprinkler system. Some of his neighbors, he's noticed, have already gotten a head start on that.

"It drives me a little crazy," he said, of people watering their already green lawns. "If you look at my lawn, we don't need it right now."

Black said he's been paying attention to the state's drought and following lawn watering recommendations.

"I'm from St. George, and I can see how bad it's getting," Black said. "Just from the lakes that we've been going to and the stories we've seen how low the water level is, for the shortage that we had in the snow. I know it's going to be a tough year."

But some might wonder why lawns are always such a big focus when farms and agriculture eat up most of the water in the state.

"People might say, 'Oh well, doesn't matter because this other person's doing it,'" said Laura Haskell, Drought Coordinator with the Division of Water Resources.

Think of it this way, the Division of Water Resources explains: Utah's water is divided into two separate buckets.

82 percent of the state's water supply is poured into one bucket, for agricultural use. The other 18 percent is dumped into another bucket, which is treated for municipal use.

Those buckets cannot share water because one is treated and one is not, Haskell indicated. So that 18 percent is really 100 percent of what's available for businesses, homes, and city or government buildings.

In looking at that 18 percent, Haskell spelled out how 8 percent goes toward all commercial, industrial and institutional uses. 6 percent -- the second-highest use -- is quenched strictly by residential outdoor usage.

Residential indoor uses the remaining 4 percent.

That means watering the lawn uses way more water than what anyone would use inside their home, Haskell indicated.

"It uses 3,000 gallons per watering, per quarter-acre lot average in Utah," she said.

That's why they want people to be aware of the drought conditions now and do what they can to conserve.

"We wanted people to catch this early, because this spring is a good opportunity to reduce our use, especially outdoors," Haskell said. "It's cooler, you don't really need to water your lawn yet."

Black was already on top of that Monday evening, as he took care of everything but the sprinklers. By the end of the evening, his yard was in good shape.

He said he won't water just yet, and when he does, he'll follow the recommended once-a-week watering.

"Seeing how cool it's been, and how for thick and long this is -- I figure I'm good for a while," Black said.

Click here to find the latest weekly state watering guide, which is broken down county-by-county. For now, people in most counties are okay to water one time a week.