According to the U.S.G.S., Utah is the biggest water user (per person) of municipal water in America. Over the last 5 years, while average water use declined across the country, Utah’s water use actually rose slightly.
A new report from the USGS shows Utah uses more water per person than any other state in the nation, averaging 248 gallons per person per day. The study, which is released every five years, showed Utah’s average water use has increased between 2005-2010 while many other states water use reduced considerably after serious conservation efforts.
The study, conducted every 5 years, previously listed Utah as the 2nd highest water user in the country in 2000, behind Nevada. Ironically, Utah’s 2010 water use was higher than in 2005, reported as 245 gpcd according to the 2005 USGS report. While Utah’s water use rose from 2005 and 2010, average U.S. water use declined by 8 percent over the same period and Nevada’s water use declined 25 percent over that time. This indicates that Utahns have stalled in their water conservation practices.
Utah’s unique practice of collecting property taxes for water explains why Utah’s cities have America’s cheapest municipal water rates. Cheap water rates mean high use, as basic market economics dictate. Utah’s per capita water use is the justification for massive proposed water projects, including the $2 billion Lake Powell Pipeline and $2.5 billion Bear River Development.
To help educate Utahns on their water use and how they can help reduce their personal water footprint, the Utah Rivers Council launched BluePrint Utah. This online tool is a regionally-specific, interactive water footprint calculator which can help Utahns better understand their water use and how it is connected to Utah’s future. It was developed in a partnership with the U of U Office of Sustainability in an effort to institute permanent water conservation and sustainable water use practices at the University of Utah and across the state through a mixture of education and technology.