Salt Lake City

Low snowpack and stream flows prompt Mayor Mendenhall to issue Stage 1 Advisory of City’s Water Shortage Contingency Plan

With mountain snowpack and stream flows projected to be well below average this spring, Mayor Erin Mendenhall today declared a Stage 1 Advisory for water conservation, in keeping with Salt Lake City’s Five-stage Water Shortage Contingency Plan.

“We want to invite and encourage everyone in our City, as well as the other municipalities we serve, to look at ways to reduce their water use, increase their water use efficiency and eliminate any water waste,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “We can prevent any serious shortages for the rest of the year through conservation by planning and preparing now, today.”

Stream flow in local creeks that help supply water to Salt Lake City’s service area is anticipated to be 43 to 61 percent of average this year, according to data collected by the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLCDPU). Regional snowpack has improved since early February to about 75 percent in the Central Wasatch Watershed, but soil moisture is exceptionally low, contributing to inefficient spring runoff. 

The canyon watersheds east of the City provide nearly 60 percent of the water supply to more than 360,000 residents.   

Additionally, on March 17, Gov. Spencer J. Cox issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency due to extreme drought conditions in 90 percent of Utah.

These projections informed the prompting of the City’s Stage 1 Advisory—which is educational and meant to inform the public of best conservation practices to help stretch the water supply in high-demand season.  

The Water Shortage Contingency Plan outlines five water shortage stages triggered by supply levels, stream flows, and water demand; it also provides recommendations for actions within each stage aimed at reducing water demand to levels that reflect current supply and future water needs.

“Stage 1 is voluntary, with the goal of sending a message that everyone can help us avoid potential shortages this season and in future drought years by simply being mindful about their water use,” said SLCDPU Director Laura Briefer, who advises the Mayor on contingency stages. “We are asking residents, businesses, institutions, including City departments, to implement simple and cost-effective measures to conserve water.”

City departments and divisions will be mindful in reducing outdoor watering and in testing equipment for maximum watering efficiency as temperatures rise, Mayor Mendenhall said.

The Salt Lake City Fire Department will also take part in conservation measures by conducting “dry” fire hydrant inspections only to assess proper working order for fire flows. “Rather than opening up hydrants in this low-water year, we will inspect and lubricate hydrant caps, inspect their paint and check to make sure hydrants have proper clearance,” said Fire Chief Karl Lieb. 

The City’s Department of Public Services will actively monitor water use in managed parks and facilities, said Director Lorna Vogt. Residents are encouraged to report broken sprinkler and irrigation systems they may see in City parks and on building grounds via the SLC Mobile app.

Mayor Mendenhall is asking all residents and businesses to take a few simple actions to conserve now, which may also prevent the need for moving to a more restrictive stage of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan:

  • Sign up for a free water check from a Utah State University Extension. This will help you determine efficient watering levels for your lawn and landscapes.
  • Adjust automatic sprinkler controllers to reflect the season and weather, including shutting off during rainstorms. 
  • Check sprinkler systems for broken or misaligned spray heads. 
  • Check indoor faucets and fixtures for leaks and repair promptly. Find helpful tips here
  • Take advantage of the City’s water-saving tips for a water-wise landscape and garden. 
  • Read the Salt Lake City Water Shortage Contingency Plan for complete information on the five stages for addressing water shortage and drought.  
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