Drought conditions in Utah continue. As a result, snowpack for areas that feed Riverton City’s water systems is at 79% of normal. Utah Lake, the reservoir that holds the city’s secondary irrigation water, sits at 61.3% of capacity, compared to 78% last year. Together, these facts paint a somewhat bleak outlook for where we sit heading into the summer season.
Given this outlook, I recommend all Riverton residents start the summer season out with water conservation in mind and look for ways throughout this year to reduce water use. These may include:
- Wait to start watering lawns until the soil needs it. This will allow more water to be retained in Utah Lake for use later in the season. An easy way to determine if soil is moist or needs water is to stick a screwdriver in the ground. If it goes in easy, the soil is moist and doesn’t need water. If it is difficult to insert, it’s likely the grass needs water.
- Once temperatures warm and lawn watering becomes necessary, following the Weekly Lawn Watering Guide published by the Utah Division of Water Resources will ensue you are only using as much water as is necessary given outdoor temperatures.
- Adjust automatic sprinkler timers, especially in the spring and fall, to reduce the time they are on, as lawn needs much less water during those cooler months. Setting your clock at the beginning of the season and not adjusting
- Consider installing a smart irrigation controller on your sprinkler system. Doing so may qualify you for a rebate.
- Consider removing the grass in your park strip and installing landscaping that uses less water and is easier to maintain. You may qualify for the Flip Your Strip rebate from the state if you do so.
The Utah State Legislature passed H.B. 242 this year which mandates that every secondary water meter connection in Utah be metered by 2030. As part of the bill, water suppliers that install meters in 2022 and 2023 are eligible to receive state funding for 70% of the cost of the project. Riverton City plans to take advantage of this funding and will cover the remaining 30% by using funds provided to the city by the 2021 America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Riverton City has already installed meters on over 1/3 of secondary water connections, essentially all connections west of the Utah Lake Distributing Canal. Anticipating state action on metering, Riverton City suspended the installation of meters at the end of 2020, saving the city $8 million in bond money we returned to the lender. As a result of H.B. 242, and funding from ARPA, Riverton City will be able to install meters on remaining connections at no cost to the taxpayer and without incurring any debt. Residents who do not yet have a meter can expect to have one installed in the next year or two.
The city does not intend to change our charging structure for use of secondary water after meters are installed, but we hope residents will become aware of how much water they are using. Data has shown when the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District installed meters, and showed users how much water they were using, water usage dropped by 20-30% over time.