AMERICAN FORK, Utah — One city in Utah County claims they’ve managed to save over 100 million gallons of water in just the past two weeks.
Over 100 million gallons of saved water
Officials in American Fork say specifically they’ve saved 160 million gallons of water during that short stretch. Mayor Brad Frost is calling water conservation his top priority right now. It comes as the state continues to grapple with one of the worst droughts in Utah history.
“We can’t treat this year as any other year,” he emphasized. “It’s very, very real this year. This is the first time that we know of that there has been an extreme drought declared before spring even happens.”
Due to the extreme drought conditions, Frost and four other Utah County mayors asked their residents in April to hold off watering their lawns for a month. Utah Governor Spencer Cox also encouraged Utahns to watch their water usage in wake of the drought he declared a state emergency for.
As it turns out, that small sacrifice resulted in a pretty significant reward.
“That saved us over 160 million gallons of water,” says Frost.
Building on success throughout the summer
Now, he’s hoping to take this momentum and build on it. That means residents will be asked to keep using less water than normal.
“Our calculations are, if everybody will just cut back 20% from last year’s data, we’ll save almost three-quarters of a billion gallons of water,” explained Frost.
He admits that 20% may seem like a significant cutback for most, although small changes in behavior can be enough to reach that threshold.
“Just basic common-sense principles that we can apply,” he said. “Things like limiting sprinkler use, shutting it off if it rains and watering dry areas by hand.”
State leaders say Utah’s snowpack is about 70% of average and much of that won’t even make it to reservoirs, where water levels are at 67% of normal, compared to 80% this time last year.