It’s no secret that Utah is in a drought — and that means water restrictions.
However, these restrictions are not consistent throughout the Beehive State.
So what are the driving factors behind the particular water restrictions? Why do they vary across different cities and counties? How can you find out information for your specific city?
Let’s get into it.
Where do Utah’s water restrictions come from?
There is a water-use hierarchy at play in Utah and has been for a very long time due to areas that use the water to help more people.
According to KSL Radio, “first in time, first in right” was a system implemented by Utah pioneers in 1840 that determined that those who were first able to make the water stretch for more beneficial purposes would be the first ones to get water access.
Utah’s Division of Water Rights explains that water rights themselves are organized into groups in Division of Water Right records. From there, they’re given to the cities in Utah. These groupings of rights and regulations allow the division to effectively keep records, track conservation efforts and decide how regulations should be given to different cities.
This decision is known as the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation. It’s still in practice today and affects Utahns’ water access across the state.
How do these regulations effect your city?
Despite the universal issue of the drought across the state, there is still a water-use hierarchy at play and the variations can be confusing for Utahns.
For example, homeowners in Roy are allowed to water their lawns two times a week, but in West Haven, a homeowner is allowed to water their lawn or plants once a week.
Why is that?
Within the Weber Water Basin District, there are different water-use restrictions for different areas, Parry told KSL Radio. The Weber Basin drainage is part of different federal projects. and that affects water-use regulations.
“There are a lot of different water users and water providers that leverage water off of the Weber River and the Weber River basin drainage,” Jon Parry, assistant general manager of the Weber Water Basin Conservancy District, told KSL Radio.
“The Weber Water Conservancy district is a regional water supplier up here in northern Utah that operates as a junior water-right holder.”
He went on to explain to KSL Radio that obligations to these projects combined with the county’s place in the “first in time, first in right” system lead to more water restrictions.
How to know about your city’s restrictions
Parry said that in order to know about your city’s water restrictions, you can call your water provider and ask for more information. Customers of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District can find out more about watering restrictions through its website.
Weber Basin Water customers can only water lawns once a week on assigned watering days — and that’s timed, too. According to its Facebook post, a watering equals 20 minutes of overhead spray or 40 minutes of rotor.
Many Utah cities such as Riverdale and Lehi have made statements on water conservation efforts to their citizens through Facebook posts and press releases.
How to save water in Utah
Different cities have different regulations depending on where they fall in the “first in time, first in right” line, but there are some aspects of Utah’s water conservation efforts that cover the state generally.
According to the Utah Department of Natural Resources, 60% of residential water use is used for outdoor irrigation. One of the ways any Utahn could help “slow the flow” of wasted water in the state is to cut out one watering that you typically would do each month or cut the amount of time your sprinklers are running. According to the department, cutting out one routine of watering your lawn can help save 3,000 gallons for the average quarter-acre Utah yard.