SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is directing all state agencies to save water by participating in a water-wise pledge to reduce consumption and is urging all residents to take the "H20ath" as well.
The conservation campaign was unveiled Tuesday during a news conference at the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, where water district managers and state officials detailed the nine-step pledge that includes simple strategies such as shaving off one minute in a shower.
Utahns can go to water.utah.gov/H20ath to pledge reductions in water use by identifying and fixing leaks around the home, refraining from landscape watering during the hottest times of the day and not running the dishwasher or washing machine until its full.
"People in Utah want to know what they can do to conserve water," said Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. "Together we can make a big difference."
Styler quoted excerpts from Herbert's declaration of May 10 as "H2Oath Day," acknowledging a decade of drought and a near-average year for snowpack that will do little to address its impacts.
The state is expected to have lower than average runoff and stream flow, and statewide reservoir capacity is just slightly up from a year ago.
"We have a lot of challenges that face us here in the state of Utah," said Eric Milles, director of the Utah Division of Water Resources, pointing to drought and the state's rapidly growing population. "One of the key solutions is water conservation."
By taking the pledge, residents and others agree to water outdoors no more than is recommended by the lawn watering guide found on slowtheflow.org and posted weekly on the division's Facebook page and Twitter account.
Milles said if everyone in the state followed the watering guide, it would save billions of gallons of water.
Representatives from the University of Utah, Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy were on hand Tuesday to announce their intention to take the pledge, as were leaders of the four largest water districts in Utah.
The university, one of the largest water users in the Salt Lake Valley, is implementing a number of strategies to reduce its daily consumption.
In 2015, 30,000 square feet of turf grass was removed and replaced with water-wise landscaping.
Amy Wildermuth, the university's chief sustainability officer, said all new buildings are accompanied by the requirement that they achieve a 30 percent or more reduction in indoor water usage than the university's baseline and reduce outdoor water use by 50 percent from the standard. The university has also installed real-time metering devices in the new buildings to monitor usage and leaks, and has implemented a prohibition on outdoor watering except from 6 p.m. to 10 a.m.
Wildermuth said the campus population is anxious for even more water savings, which she described as an incremental process phased in over time that achieves an aesthetically pleasing appearance but accomplishes water conservation.
"I think what you will see is this transformation," she said.
Tim Hawkes, with Trout Unlimited in Utah, said the pledge is a way for everyone to do their part to cut water consumption.
"We are in the process of writing a new narrative and a new story," he said. "The problem starts — and has to get solved — here."
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