Even in the midst of the pandemic, holiday visitation numbers in Park City were higher than expected.
While the Park City Chamber/Bureau has yet to release official numbers, there’s another way to gauge how many people were in town.
The “Flush Index” measures wastewater flow, which gives an estimate on how many people are visiting Park City at any given time. During the holiday season - the index can offer a preliminary estimate before the official lodging count is released.
The index is calculated by the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District and takes into account things like quantity and strength of wastewater as well monthly visitation trends.
Mike Luers, the director of the district, said they saw more waste water than anticipated.
"We certainly are still seeing, you know, more wastewater coming down the pipe then we had envisioned," Luers said.
However he said the driving factor in the increase, likely isn’t from people staying in hotels.
"We have indications that our wastewater flows are up more than the actual visitor nights when we take our numbers and compare them to the Chamber's numbers," he said. "So yeah, we realize that some of that's taking place and I think our numbers reflect that."
Luers suspects the increase is driven by second homeowners or people coming into town for day trips.
Because visitors aren’t staying overnight, he said numbers this season are lower than the previous year.
"So for December of 2020, we estimated that there were about 348,120 visitor nights," he said. "That was down about 19%. And we ended up with a year about 30% down."
After a big spike in visitors during Christmas and New Year’s, he said the district has since seen the flushes drop off a bit.