Park City residents cutting water use as drought continues
With Park City in the grip of a drought, city administrators are asking residents to conserve water by limiting the times they irrigate their lawns and complying with time-of-day watering restrictions, among other steps.
Those measures have made a difference.
“I think Park City residents are doing an excellent job conserving water,” Jason Christensen, water resources manager, said. “We saw reductions in customer use in 2021, and so far in 2022, we are seeing a little bit greater reductions in use this year through our July 1 billing period.”
The city also has done well over the long term. The average Park City single-family home uses half as much water now than it did in 2000 while multi-family units and irrigation accounts have shown similar drops, Christensen said.
Commercial properties are using the same amount of water as in 2000, but many of those businesses are serving more people than they did 22 years ago, which drives up their usage, he said.
The average amount of water used daily by Park City residents varies throughout the year. The peak day so far this year was 7.04 million gallons on July 13.
The Water Department, which serves customers within Park City limits, can produce up to 11.58 million gallons a day.
“There’s a clear reduction that’s happening over what we would expect to see in conditions like this versus what we’re actually observing in production,” Christensen said. “People are responding to the drought messaging.”
To incentivize conservation, the Park City Water Department has a rate structure that charges more per unit of water as use increases.
Most residential irrigation systems use about 1,000 gallons an hour when watering grass, Christensen said. He said about 60% to 70% of the water produced by the department in the summer goes to outdoor irrigation.
Watering restrictions are another conservation tool. Under city code, outside watering is prohibited between 10:01 a.m. and 6:59 p.m. from May 1 until Sept. 30.
People who live or work at an even-numbered address can water on even-numbered days between 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. and those who live or work at an odd-numbered address can water during that time period on odd-numbered days. Customers who are able to water even less frequently can email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for watering on every third day and to be exempted from the even-odd restriction.
Watering impervious surfaces is prohibited if the water leaves the property and enters gutters or storm drains.
The city also encourages voluntary xeriscaping, which is landscaping with plants that are native to the area or come from a similar climate and that require little or no watering.
“That doesn’t mean you should go out and gravel your front yard,” Christensen said. “But when you’re looking to landscape your property, you should look for plants that don’t need a whole lot of supplemental irrigation but can still beautify your yard.”
Websites with information about how to reduce water usage and bills can be found at parkcity.watersmart.com, utahwatersavers.com, and conservewater.utah.gov.
The Summit County Wildland Fire Unit is a county-founded, volunteer-run resource created to assist with an extended wildfire.
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