Utah water official warns Utahns to stay vigilant on water use

Sep 8, 2023, 1:44 PM

Image of Joel Ferry, director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, who said it is important...

Joel Ferry, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, speaks during a press conference at the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District's Conservation Garden Park in West Jordan on Monday, May 1, 2023. Officials announced a statewide water-wise landscaping incentive program to encourage residents to replace grass with water-efficient landscaping. (Deseret News)

(Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The latest drought update has some good news. Only 8% of Utah is currently listed as being in drought and it’s listed as moderate.

 But Joel Ferry, the executive director of Utah’s Department of Natural Resources, told KSL NewsRadio that Utahns can’t let themselves become complacent on conservation.

“It could just be another year or two out and we’ll be back right where we were in the severe drought extreme drought situations,” he said.

“And so it’s so important that, what we do, we have to have a new normal.”

What would a ‘new normal’ look like?

Although Ferry credits Utahns for cutting back on water use, Ferry said within a few years we could easily be back in extreme drought. 

“You know, when a new home goes in less grass, more water-wise landscaping. Industry comes in. They’re very efficient.”

Additionally, Ferry said his agency will continue to pitch the legislature for things like investments in agriculture optimization and updating watersheds.

“We can get that water down, it can be efficient. It can be effective in how we manage these lands, landscape type areas.”

Looking ahead

According to Ferry, if Utah receives a normal snowpack during the 2023-2024 winter, the soil moisture right now will set us up for a great runoff next spring. And more water will get to the reservoirs.

“The drought is not just how much it rains,” said Ferry. “It also takes into consideration our soil moisture content and we’re sitting in a really, really good place as far as soil moisture goes statewide.”


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Utah water official warns Utahns to stay vigilant on water use