Utah’s water conservancies are struggling to keep up with rising water levels in some parts of the state, as some counties in the state’s far north see water use soar.
Utah Water Conservation Association (USWA) executive director Mark Wysocki says he is concerned the state is at risk of running out of water when a recent study by the Utah Department of Water Resources showed water conservation in the Great Basin region had reached a record low in June.
“We’re at a point where our water supply is finite,” he said.
“We’re not running out and we have no choice but to conserve.”
It’s the most urgent time of year and that’s when our population needs to increase.
So, we have to keep our water levels at a level that can sustainably meet our needs for a very long time.
“The Utah Department Of Water Resources (UDWR) released a water conservation analysis last month that showed water use in the Salt Lake Valley, which encompasses the Salt River Basin, dropped to its lowest level in more than a decade.
In the Great Salt Lake region, water consumption increased for the first time since the 1950s, but that trend is not stopping with Utah’s population growth.
According to USWA’s analysis, Utah’s Great Salt River Valley is now producing about 1.2 million acre-feet of water, up from 1.1 million acre feet in the last year.
Water conservation in Utah’s most populous county, Ogden, has also seen an increase, rising to nearly 4.5 million acre gallons in June from 1 million acre days in June 2016.
That increase is the largest in the nation.
The Utah Drought Monitor, which tracks droughts and extreme events in the United States, predicts the number of counties in Salt Lake County, where Ogden is located, with water scarcity could hit an all-time high of 9.6 million acre gallon in 2019.
Wysockis assessment of the water conservation situation in the Ogden area is supported by a 2015 study by UTEP that estimated that the Ogendan Valley water system could run dry in 2019 if water conservation does not increase significantly.
In May, UTEP researchers said the Ogallala Aquifer in the eastern part of Utah’s Ogden Valley could be depleted in less than a year, and that the Great Sand Dunes in the west could run out of groundwater in less, too.
The state’s Water Resources Commission issued a statement late last week saying it was confident that water conservation will continue to increase as Utah’s economy and population increases.”
Water conservation continues to be the top priority in our communities,” the statement said.
Utah Governor Gary Herbert said the governor will be traveling to the Ogare Basin region in Utah on Thursday to discuss the Ogalasean Basin water conservation report.
He said the state will continue its efforts to keep its water supply “viable”.
In a statement, Herbert said he has “great confidence” that Utah will meet its water conservation goals.”
Our water supply can meet Utah’s needs while keeping Utah safe and thriving, and we’re going to continue to work to achieve this goal,” Herbert said.
But Wysicki says the current water shortage in the region is a reflection of the population growth in the area.”
I think that’s the worst case scenario.
It’s just an indication that Utah is going to run out and there is going a point at which our population has increased to a point that we need to be increasing our water consumption,” he told ABC News.
Wyse says Utah’s situation is similar to the one faced in California, where the state has a high population and the state expects to run low in 2020 due to population growth and a drought that began in 2014.”
California, which is about 10 percent water a year now, it’s already at about 15 percent,” Wyse said.”
And it’s going to get worse.
California has no water left, so it’s really going to take a lot of water to sustain that population.
“So, we’re really looking at a very dangerous situation for the water system.”
Wystek says Utah needs to work on water conservation, but there is no silver bullet to solve the water shortage problem.
“To make the most of the situation that we have now, we need an infrastructure, we will need to invest in infrastructure to keep the water from going bad, and then we will have to start to address what’s happening in our water systems,” he says.ABC News’ Matt Rourke contributed to this report.