Water conservation necessary as county population grows
May 21, 2018 10:15AM
● By City Journals Staff
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
The Salt Lake Valley is increasing in population, but the water supply is not.
This increase in demand requires change in how water is used. Water to West Jordan comes from the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, or JVWCD, which also provides to most of the valley. It sells its water to the 17 districts on a wholesale basis. Water is collected from the Provo, Weber and Duchesne rivers and other Salt Lake County streams. Water is then stored in Deer Creek and Jordanelle Reservoirs. About 11 percent comes from West Jordan groundwater wells.
Reduction of water use by 25 percent is a necessity
JVWCD Communications Manager Matt Olsen presented a conservancy plan to the West Jordan City Council on April 24. They launched a new an online program filled with monetary incentives for the public to reduce each household’s daily use of water.
“We’re getting a little concerned about our water conservation progress as we look over to the next few years because we really feel like a lot of the easy conservation’s been accomplished,” said Olsen.
This new initiative has additional strategies to help individuals begin to curb their own consumption.
“We’re finding that we need to move more from situational conservation, which is what happens when people respond to like a drought message to what we’re calling structural conservation, which is actually changing the way we use water,” Olsen said. “That could be plumbing; that could be the way our landscapes are designed, and that’s where we’re really focusing our efforts.”
JVWCD Assistant General Manager Water Supply Bart Forsyth stated that the water supply for the valley will not be increasing, but the population will. It is necessary, therefore, for every household to make reductions in their water use to accommodate the growth.
“[Our] mission is ‘Delivering Quality Water and Services Every Day,’” Forsyth said. “Achieving its goal of reducing water use 25 percent by 2025 will be essential in meeting this mission and providing a sustainable water supply moving into the future.”
The city is accountable too
West Jordan City government is also encouraged to reduce its water consumption. Later in the same meeting, the city’s landscape requirements’ concerning landscaping adjacent to arterial streets, or main roads, was being discussed in public hearing. Council members Alan Anderson and Kayleen Whitelock vocalized concerns about enacting the advice that was just given.
“While I want our city to be beautified, I want to have water to shower, drink,” Whitelock said. “The very night they come to tell us we need to be better stewards of our water, we say, ‘Let’s put in all these plants,’ and not one thing in here says anything about water wise plants. I think we can do a lot of water wise things that look nice.”
“I would like to explore what Conservation Garden has for low maintenance, water-wise,” Anderson said. “I think they could have some input on something like this.”
The parks department is ultimately in charge of making those decisions of choosing plants and managing irrigation of city property.
“We have better control of our irrigation since we’re on central irrigation,” said Director of Parks Brian Clegg. The city council approved a lot of money to step that up. The industry has changed where there are better products to manage that.”.
The intricacies of the ordinance was tabled and will be brought forth as a business item in the future.
Utah droughts and water supply
Utah relies on the snow each winter to provide water.
“Last year at this time, we experienced very good, above-normal snowpack conditions,” said Forsyth. “Our current reservoir storage is in better shape this year than last year at this time. Thus, our current storage will provide an adequate supply for this year.”
The winter of 2017–18 brought very little snow to the Salt Lake Valley. What does this mean for the availability of water this coming summer?
“...[O]ur snowpack this year is well below normal,” Forsyth said. “Water conservation will continue to be important to be sure that we have adequate supplies next year and into the future. Any water that can be conserved this year can be held in storage and used for next year’s supply.”
You get paid to conserve
On May 1, incentives to reduce your household water consumption were made available through JVWCD. There are programs that incentivize updating toilets, converting the park strips in front of houses, personal landscape consultations by professionals and more. It is an online program that gives access to the conservation programs and incentives. Access is available through https://utahwatersavers.com/.