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Many Residents Overwatering in October

Many Residents Overwatering in October

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John Daley reporting This fall's unseasonably warm temperatures have everyone from farmers to water managers watching for signs of a change in the weather-- hoping for a wet winter, but already bracing for another dry one.

In Salt Lake City, just like elsewhere in the state, we've had virtually no rain to fill our streams this October--normally our fourth wettest month. In a normal year, we'll get nearly an inch of rain in October.

Not surprisingly, many people are still over-watering their lawns. But water managers say it's time to seriously cut back.

For weeks now Utah has had a string warm and calm blue-sky days. What's wrong with this perfect picture?

Well, it's October 20. The temperature is almost 20 degrees above normal--and the drought is starting to linger like a guest that refuses to leave.

For our region's farmers these are dicey times. The latest state progress report says soil moisture has been a big concern during the entire fall planting season--and concerns about irrigation supplies for next year have already begun to surface.

In Box Elder County farmers are looking at crop insurance to hedge against a shortage of water.

On the water conservation front, where citizens have been so good at cutting back, some folks are starting to back slide, overwatering in an unnecessary attempt to keep lawns green.

Folks are using more water than in September and more than last October.

Stephanie Duer/ Water Conservation Coordinator: "I think people are being more responsible overall with their water use. But they are still using more than they need to. As far as how it compares with August, although the days are warm, the nights are considerably cooler, which helps to decrease the water demand on plants. And the fact that plants are going dormant-- they're not growing as actively."

The best tip she says--in dry fall and winter months: a good deep watering of the lawn and newly planted trees only once a month, and only if things stay dry.

Meantime, it should come as some consolation to remember that even in a drought year, our high altitude locations can get 400 inches of snow.

Nathan Rafferty/ Ski Utah: "Alta opens in a month. You know, we're out here in short sleeves and almost 80 degrees, and Alta opens in a month. You know, I have no doubt that's going to happen. Things change quickly."

Meantime, Salt Lake water officials say if the reservoirs aren't adequately restored by spring runoff, we could see tougher measures including some restrictions on lawn watering next summer.

They're hoping folks will save on indoor water use this winter.

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