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Students work to save water during Utah drought

Posted at 1:27 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 15:32:11-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah — Students in the Canyons School District are doing their part to conserve water as the Utah deals with extreme drought.

READ: 'Extreme Drought Watering Guide' asks residents to cut back lawn watering

Over the last six years, interns with the Water Manager Internship program have saved upwards of 20 million gallons of water annually.

“It’s really important to have efficient water management systems because schools are probably, could waste tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands on water each year if we’re not careful,” said Isaac Middlemas, a senior at Hillcrest High School.

Mathematically-inclined student interns go through training on how to track water usage and how to apply just enough water to preserve areas like sports fields in the district.

“They determine what the precipitation rate is and the distribution uniformity, and then they are able to calculate the accurate, or pretty accurate, run times in order to keep the turf healthy,” said Christopher Eppler, energy engineer for Canyons School District.

READ: Water waster website flooded with complaints

The students also learn about how much water is being lost due to evaporation from the land and plants, as well as monitor sprinkler systems on school campuses, and perform measurements and calculations on soil moisture, temperature and relative humidity.

“It involves a little bit of math, which is kind of interesting; learning how to apply math that we learned in the classroom, out in the field, which is interesting,” said Coleman Rohde, a senior at Hillcrest High School.

All the data collected by interns will help the district audit campuses for areas where they should further slow, or stop the flow of water.

“Grass, when you add too much water, it doesn’t matter, ultimately if you add too much water it’s just going to drain away. You just need the right amount of water to keep grass healthy; anymore than that it’s going to do nothing for the grass perhaps even flooded making things worse,” said Rohde.

WATCH: Water restrictions, long-term solutions contemplated in Utah drought emergency

Students in the program say water conservation is an ideal and achievable goal and it’s especially important during a drought.
“The district is trying very hard to be a leader in how we use our irrigation water,” said Eppler.