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Richard Piatt ReportingThe message is sinking in as fast as water on a parched lawn: The drought is affecting people's water habits. That's according to a new survey for KSL-TV and the Deseret News by Dan Jones and Associates.
There has been a repetitive message this year that's getting through to people. Now in the fifth year of a drought, people are thinking about how much water they're using.
Look around your neighborhood, and chances are you're seeing either more drought-friendly landscaping or more brown lawns this summer. According to our poll, both could be the result of people watering less than they used to.
According to our exclusive Dan Jones poll of 607 people, a whopping 89 percent say they're actually cutting back this year. That's good news according to water experts, who say the majority of water waste happens when people water their lawns too much.
Some people will come right out and admit: They're not watering any less. They are however, watering more efficiently.
The poll shows 60 percent are watering their lawns just as much, but they're watering early in the morning or late at night. Water experts say this is a less dramatic, but still important way to conserve.
People aren't just saving water in the yard either. The poll shows people are also taking steps by fixing leaky faucets and by installing water-efficient toilets, taps and showerheads. The Dan Jones poll says 65 percent have put those water-saving devices to use already--another effective conservation technique.
There are still lots of people who admit they aren't conserving water--inside or outside. Fifteen percent say they're just not thinking about cutting back on water, and these are the people affected by our next question.
City councils in most Utah cities have changed their water rate structures this year. The fees are now based on the water that flows through your pipes: If you use more, then you pay more--and in some cases a lot more. But most of the people in the poll don't think local governments or water companies are serious enough about it. Sixty two percent say those agencies haven't taken enough steps to reward water conservers and punish water wasters.
There has been a reluctance to patrol neighborhoods for violators, however more than one government official says that could be coming if the drought continues.
It's a tough job to get people to change their watering habits. But the first step appears to have been successful -- getting people to think about the water they're using.