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Utahns don't need to water yet, officials say

State agency warns against wasteful watering

SALT LAKE CITY — These intermittent rainstorms accompanied by extra moist soils mean Utahns anxious to turn to outdoor watering should instead exercise restraint.

Although it may be tempting to water because of some seemingly dry spots in the yard, the Utah Division of Water Resources is asking people to remain water-wise and conserve.

"The message is essentially it is not necessary to water yet," said Faye Rutishauser, the division's conservation coordinator.

An abundant snowpack that has saturated downstream soils, combined with a frequent wet weather pattern, means the faucet can remain idle for some time to come.

"If you have a trouble area in your yard you can hand water it, but there is no need to turn on the entire system for one dry patch," Rutishauser said.

Dead looking spots in grass are actually a symptom of too much water, she added, with the saturation interfering with the ability to take up nutrients like iron.

"Overwatering just perpetuates the problem," she said.

The division puts out a weekly watering guide based on the previous week's weather conditions. It includes parameters for duration of watering and a link to water conservation tips.

The ample snowpack — in some spots nearly twice what is average — does not mean watering restrictions put in place during the drought have been lifted.

At the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District serving Weber, Davis, Morgan and portions of Summit counties, secondary water users are warned that watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., excessive water use or a sprinkler system in significant disrepair can result in the loss of secondary service.

"One good water year does not erase five years of drought," said division spokesman Josh Palmer. "There is an abundance of food at the grocery store, but just because there is an abundance doesn't mean we are going to buy it all and throw it all away."

Palmer stressed that Utah residents shouldn't just conserve water because of a drought year, but because it is the right thing to do.

"Water conservation needs to be one of Utah's core ethics," he said. "One wet year doesn't mean water-wise practices aren't as important."

Rutishauser said water conservation practices now are essential to future generations.

"Water conservation is not just an environmental issue but a sustainability issue and about us having the choices from generation to generation," she said.

The division solicited bids through Tuesday for a third-party contractor to evaluate water use and supply data from public community water systems throughout the state for the years 2005, 2010 and 2015.

That data will ultimately form a baseline for water use and supply in the state's 11 hydrologic basins and will be the foundation for future water conservation regional goals tailored to specific areas.