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Park City community has reduced water usage by a third since 2020

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KPCW
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The city’s parks have reduced water use by 32% since 2020. In the same timeframe, the golf course used 27% less water.

Amid a historic drought in the western United States, Park City Municipal has worked to reduce water use, and it’s paying off.

2022 has been a better water year than 2021; however, trends still point to continually increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation.

Park City considers itself in drought when water demand reaches 85% of total supply. Fortunately that hasn’t happened. Peak demand this year came in July, equal to 62% of the available supply. That’s better than 2021, when peak demand hit 70%.

The city has adopted several changes across departments to decrease water consumption, and the numbers show major improvement.

The city’s parks have reduced water use by 32% since 2020. In the same timeframe, the golf course used 27% less water.

Looking at the entire community, including residents and businesses, water use has also dropped by a third since 2020.

“The biggest reduction is just people changing their irrigation habits in response to the drought," said Jason Christensen with the city's water department.

"For our irrigation accounts, so those are connections that are to our municipal water system that are only used for outdoor irrigation, we saw almost a 50% reduction when compared to 2020. And that reduction is only possible by people taking concrete action during this drought, being comfortable with perhaps their lawn going yellow and going dormant for the season.”

Christensen said 2020 was used as a comparison year because it was very hot and dry. He said if it weren’t for the pandemic, drought restrictions likely would have had to be put into place that year.

“Really, just hats off to the community," he said. "Know that we at the water department and the city appreciate your efforts.”

Staff said the city is in a good position, even with an uncertain future. Currently, the city sells surplus water to the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, but that can be cut if needed.

Asked Wednesday about his prediction for this winter’s snowpack, Christensen was feeling positive.

“It’s early enough in the winter, that all I can be is optimistic, especially as I look out the window at the snow that we’re getting right now. I’m hoping for an epic snow year, and it’s early enough that it definitely could pan out that way.”

Next year will bring the completion of the 3 Kings Water Treatment Plant, a major capital project that will replace the aging Spiro plant and help produce drinking water.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.