Utah’s Reservoir Shortage

Emily Rodrigues, Staff Writer

For the average person in the U.S. a shower lasts about eight minutes. If you use the average shower head (which uses two and a half gallons of water per minute) and the average cost of water in Utah in the Shower Water and Energy Use Calculator, you will see that an eight minute shower uses 20 gallons of water. Now imagine taking a 20 minute shower… You do the math.

In 2015 Utah had a lot less snow fall, which led to a short supply in the water department. The total snowfall for last year was only 205 inches. For 2016 so far, Utah has received just about 142 inches. The fresh powder is not only needed for the amazing ski slopes, but for our reservoirs so we have water that can last throughout the rest of the year.

The USDA said, “Storage in 48 of Utah’s key irrigation reservoirs is at 53% of capacity compared to 60% last year.” This may sound like a lot of water, but in reality, it is not enough to feel safe about. The soil is warming, which makes any potential snowpack disappear from our hopes of helping the reservoirs.

The normal average of useable water in Utah is normally at least above 70 percent, which shows just how far behind we are. Our declining water storage has been a big topic when talking about one of our reservoirs, Lake Powell. The Lake Powell Water Database said, “Lake Powell is 106.82 feet below full pool.” Remember that Lake Powell is not just a reservoir, but a huge recreation site as well, so, the water disappearing affects a broad range of people.

Those of you who may be asking about other precipitation, like rain, keep in mind that Utah is considered a desert despite our normal snow filled winters. Meaning that we only get around 12 inches of rain a year, which doesn’t supply enough water to last in the long run.

This could possibly be heading to a push towards water conservation this summer for Utah’s citizens. Things like shorter bathing time, and less lawn watering may be in your future. However, there is still hope for more snow before this season is done and sunny days take the lead.