LETTER TO THE EDITOR — The National Drought Mitigation Center has placed Washington County in its “D4: Exceptional Drought” classification. This is the most serious level, exceeding four other categories of drought, including “extreme drought.” Last week, Governor Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency based on this classification and urged Utahns to conserve water not only because of current drought conditions, but also because we live in one of the nation’s driest states.
Although Washington County recently received some rain and snow, we are not yet in the clear. Utah’s current snowpack is at approximately 70% of the average this year. Utah’s mountains need to receive the remaining 30% before summer conditions cause the snow to melt.
When viewing Utah as a whole, 2020 was the worst year for precipitation since 1956. Last year, Utah received just 7.23 inches of precipitation on average. This easily shattered the previous record low of 8.12 inches.
The current drought is not unique to Washington County or even Utah. The entire southwestern United States has been greatly affected, with areas of Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Arizona in the extreme to exceptional drought classifications.
Given the drought conditions, we ask all residents, businesses and governmental entities to actively engage in conservation. We must all know and implement best practices for water management.
These practices include:
- Following the seasonal watering schedule. Right now, you should only be irrigating your landscape one or two times a week, as needed. Waiting to water will encourage deep root growth, which creates a healthier and more water-efficient landscape.
- Using a broom, instead of a hose, to clean the driveway.
- Only washing full loads of laundry.
- Turning off the tap while shaving or brushing teeth.
- Taking short showers instead of baths.
- Planting shrubs and trees that thrive in our desert climate and using grass sparingly. Look at the Washington County Water Conservancy District’s plant and tree guide on wcwcd.org to see what does well in our desert climate.
- Adjusting sprinklers to water the yard, not the concrete.
- Using drip irrigation on plants, trees, and shrubs.
- Turning off irrigation on rainy days.
- Aerating your soil annually.
- Using a pool cover.
- Installing efficient appliances in your home and business. The Washington County Water Conservancy District offers rebates on many qualifying, high-efficiency products such as washing machines, toilets, plumbing fixtures and smart controllers. Take advantage of these programs and save money while saving water.
If we all implement simple conservation practices now, it will save our water for future use without necessitating substantial changes to our daily lives. Like the meek Virgin River carving Zion’s majestic canyons, incremental shifts and smart science-based modifications will compound into great differences. We must all do our part and make these simple changes now.
To help educate our citizens about water, Washington County is excited to announce its “Know Water” campaign. In partnership with local businesses, organizations and governmental entities, we will be focusing on helping community members “know” how to conserve water, how water reliability directly impacts our economy and how we are currently working to increase water sustainability in our region. Additionally, we will share simple water-wise tips Washington County residents can implement to make a significant difference.
For more helpful hints to “Know Water,” visit Washington County Water Conservancy District’s website.
Submitted by the WASHINGTON COUNTY WATER CONSERVANCY DISTRICT.
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