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Drought Education Staying with Us

Drought Education Staying with Us



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John Daley ReportingThough we're getting plenty of moisture this month, for six years we've been in a drought and that appears to have done a lot to change people's attitudes about conserving water.

You can see the signs all over the state. What was thirsty Kentucky blue grass is being replaced by water-wise plants. That's perhaps the most visible sign of a change in attitudes about drought and water use.

A few years ago homeowner Emily Smith began adding in an impressive array of water-wise plants. She did it because it looked good, but her conservation concerns were heightened by the drought.

Emily Smith: "If you lived back east, which I did for a while, nobody waters anything because they don't need to. But to come here and see so many people irrigating landscapes they don't really use I found wasteful and a little upsetting."

Many Utahns apparently share that attitude and worry about the impact our long dry spell has had on water supplies, according to a new Dan Jones poll for KSL-TV and the Deseret Morning News.

Just 1% of Utahns polled say the drought is NOT a problem. 13% call it a minor problem. 60% of those polled say the drought is a major problem, which requires serious long-term planning.

Some see it as even more dangerous. 23% of those polled say the drought is an extremely serious problem and if it continues it could be catastrophic and the state should be planning for that possibility.

So is that water-wise ethic sinking in? Salt Lake City's water coordinator says residents are using 16% less water now than before the drought.

Stephanie Duer, Salt Lake City Water Conservation Coordinator: "We get a lot of phone calls from people asking for information, we get a lot of hits on our website."

We asked if the drought has encouraged you to try to conserve more water. 77% say definitely and 18% say probably, only 4% say it has not.

We also asked, which are you doing to save? 92% say they are watering their lawns at the recommended hours between 6 pm to 10 am. Nearly as many say they're watering their lawn less and using less water indoors. Perhaps most surprising, a healthy 45% say they have converted some or all of their landscape to water-wise plants.

Janet Diegle specializes in water-wise landscaping. She's been plenty busy over the past few years converting sites. With price of water going up she says many Utahns are realizing both the environmental and economic benefits of saving water.

Janet Diegel, Waterwise Designs and Landscaping: “I think the drought has been wonderful to help push the education forward that we have a scarce resource, which is water, and that we have a growing population.”

Stephanie Duer, Salt Lake City Water Conservation Coordinator: "The single most important message is, what we've learned in the last few years is what we always have to do. This isn't just about the drought, it's about forever."

Converting to water-wise plants seems to have caught on first with homeowners, but increasingly businesses like Albion Financial are looking to save water and save money by making the switch.

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