Salt Lake City mayor declares Stage 2 water shortage

Only government entities will be affected by the new regulations, but residents should still try to conserve, mayor says.

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, photographed in January, declared a Stage 2 water shortage Thursday.

The mayor of Salt Lake City ramped up water restrictions on Thursday amid the state’s continuing drought.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall declared a Stage 2 water shortage, after previously declaring a Stage 1 shortage in March. Only government entities, not residents, will be affected by the new regulations, according to a news release. All government facilities will have to stay within watering budgets and implement strategies to reduce wasted water, including not using sprinklers between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., said city spokeswoman Lindsey Nikola.

But the city is asking residents to voluntarily reduce water use.

“Time and again, we in Salt Lake City prove how much we can accomplish when we work together toward a common good,” Mendenhall said in a news release. “I am asking everyone to use the water you need, but with purpose and respect for a precious and limited natural resource. We can do this.”

Ways to save water include checking faucets for leaks and watering lawns sparingly. People can sign up for a free water check, which will tell them if their sprinklers are being used efficiently.

Salt Lake City hasn’t declared a Stage 2 water shortage since 2004, according to the release. A Stage 3 shortage was declared later that summer, causing city fountains to be turned off and fundraising car washes to be prohibited.

The creeks that supply a portion of the water to hundreds of thousands of people in Salt Lake County are currently only at 22% to 52% of their average capacity, according to the release. This year’s drought is likely to get worse in the coming months since the driest months of the year are usually August and September.

About 80% of the state is currently in an “exceptional drought,” according to Basil Newmerzhycky, a meteorologist with the Bureau of Land Management’s Great Basin Predictive Fire Weather Program. He said at a news conference earlier this week that exceptional droughts have occurred only once or twice a decade over the past 30 years, and previously only covered 5% to 10% of the state.