Despite some welcome storms in recent weeks, Utah still faces the prospect of a long, hot summer without nearly as much water as it really needs.

There's certainly no reason to panic. But other parts of the state had better start bracing themselves for water rationing plans like those announced this week in Weber and Davis counties.There are plenty of ways to conserve. Here are just a few of the more obvious and easy steps:

- Put two filled plastic bottles in toilet tanks.

- Install water-saving shower heads and take shorter showers.

- Don't let children play with the hose.

- Use the dishwasher and washing machine only for full loads.

- Plant drought-resistant trees.

- Water during the cool parts of the day and don't water the sidewalk or gutter.

- Check hoses, faucets and pipes for leaks.

- Don't run the water while brushing teeth, shaving or washing the car.

- Keep a container or water in the refrigerator for drinking instead of running the faucet until the water cools.

As one of the most arid states in the nation, Utah shouldn't fall for the well-worn claim that water development projects are just wasteful boondoggles. Instead, we must keep pressing for the speedy completion of the long-delayed Central Utah Project and similar reclamation efforts. It also might help if Utah encouraged future business and industry to locate in outlying areas of the state instead of increasingly concentrating along the already-crowded Wasatch Front.

Like the rest of the West, Utah has experienced droughts before and can bounce back from this one, too. But even in the best of times, water is a precious resource and ought to be used carefully.