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USGS data shows water usage in Utah is vastly different from county to county

Water Consumption
Posted at 6:09 PM, Jul 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 15:41:15-04

Comparing water use from one place to another is problematic and presents natural contradictions. Living in a dry area can necessitate more public water infrastructure and water use, though the scarcity of water makes conservation imperative.

With that in mind, Utah and Federal water experts acknowledge that Utah needs to conserve more, especially after two decades of increasingly dry and hot weather.

The U.S. Geological Survey conducts what they call a water census. The most recent complete set of numbers is from 2015. The state, local water managers, and users have made steps to conserve since then. Still, the numbers help understand the big picture of water use in Utah.

Another thing to keep in mind: Utah's diverse geography means conservation in St. George doesn't mean more water for Logan and vice versa.

Hover over this map, and you'll see the amount of public supply freshwater used per capita in your county. That's the water piped to homes and businesses that don't use it on an industrial scale.

This chart shows the total amount of public water use per county. Notice how Utah County has a much smaller population than Salt Lake County, but uses far more water. Also, Morgan County has between 8,000 and 9,000 residents but uses more water than all but four other counties.

All of that public use amounted to about 22 percent of overall consumption, with agriculture overall using about 75 percent. The rest was split between industrial, thermoelectric and golf course use.

Golf courses take a lot of water, especially in the desert Southwest. These maps show first (in red and blue) the total amount of water used by golf courses and (in green) the amount used per acre. Daggett, Piute and Wayne counties do not have golf courses.

Farms and ranchers consume the most water in Utah. The most use in two rural counties: Box Elder and Millard.