Salt Lake City placed under water shortage advisory

Mayor Erin Mendenhall called on city residents to take voluntary steps now to avoid tougher restrictions this summer.

(Steve Griffin | Tribune file photo) This July 26, 2017, file photo shows a runner in Liberty Park as the sprinklers flow. Salt Lake City Erin Mendenhall is issuing water conservation orders now because of expected low runoff of and shortages later in the year. Sprinklers cool down a runner at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City Thursday July 20, 2017.

Although spring officially began only a few days ago, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is preparing for drier months ahead.

The mayor declared the city under a Stage 1 water conservation advisory Wednesday, which puts the public on notice about possible future water shortages.

“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,” Mendenhall said in a news release.

The declaration comes one week after Gov. Spencer Cox declared a state of emergency due to severe drought conditions throughout Utah.

Creeks that replenish the bulk of Salt Lake City’s water supply could see flows between 43% and 61% of normal this year. While recent storms have improved Utah’s snowpack, parched soils mean runoff will be less efficient.

The city has five total water shortage stages triggered by supply and demand. The next phase, Stage 2, is considered a “mild” condition, where the city would recommend voluntary action by residents and other water customers. The stages escalate up to “critical,” with a number of restrictions and mandatory actions.

The current “advisory” stage is meant to be an educational effort to encourage the public to take steps that will reduce water demand.

Inspecting sprinklers and indoor faucets for leaks can help reduce water waste, as can shutting of irrigation systems during rainstorms. A free water check from Utah State University Extension can help people find more efficient ways to irrigate their landscapes. Mendenhall also encouraged residents to read up on the city’s water-saving tips and Water Shortage Contingency Plan.

“We can prevent any serious shortages for the rest of the year through conservation by planning and preparing now, today,” Mendenhall said.

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