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Drought Guidance for Public Water Systems

Utah is experiencing extreme drought and as the drought wears on and conditions worsen, all public water systems should be prepared to take decisive action to mitigate water shortages and water quality issues.

The Division of Drinking Water (DDW) is here to support public water systems by providing technical assistance, emergency response, permitting support, and emergency funding for public water systems.

Please do not wait until you have an emergency situation before you get in touch with us and ask for help.

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Guidance for All Water Systems

  • Plan ahead to activate drinking water sources: Notify DDW if your system needs to activate a water source. Please note, we may require sampling and deficiency resolution before you are approved to use the source, so it’s important to plan ahead.
  • Interconnections: All interconnections with partner/neighbor water systems need DDW approval.
  • Increase monitoring for water quality and supply issues: Water quality issues may arise due to reduced flows, stagnant water, or cross-connections.
    • Groundwater level monitoring –If your system relies on groundwater, increased groundwater monitoring is recommended as springs dry up and groundwater levels may become depleted.
    • Positive bacteriological samples – Consider expanding investigative sampling in the distribution system if you have customer complaints and routine positive samples. Look for any potential cross connections as the cause.
    • Water quality degradation with age – Higher temperatures and reduced water usage can degrade water quality in storage tanks and distribution systems. Increased monitoring is recommended.
    • Harmful algal blooms (HABs) – If you have a surface water source, increased monitoring is recommended for harmful algal blooms and cyanotoxins that they can produce. Find more information on HABs.
  • Water service outage or pressure loss: Notify DDW within 24 hours if your system loses the required water pressure and/or the tank and distribution system runs dry. Better yet, notify us before you lose pressure or your tanks run dry. Loss of water pressure increases cross contamination risks, and additional monitoring and public notification is required.
  • Water hauling: Hauling culinary water to maintain supply and pressure requires DDW approval. Find more information about water hauling.
  • Storage levels for fire protection: Contact your local Fire Authority if storage tank levels remain lower than normal.

Guidance for Systems with a Secondary Water Supply

Systems with secondary water suppliers who are considering an early shutoff should implement strategies to ensure that consumers do not overuse limited culinary supplies for outdoor watering, or contaminate the system through cross-connections.

Although notice is not required through DDW, we have developed this customizable notice template (18 KB) as a resource to help your system easily provide guidance to users on shutdown dates, acceptable outdoor water use, and cross-connection risks. We recommend providing this to users well in advance of the shutoff, along with regular updates and reminders.

Resources for Communicating with Consumers

The Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources has developed a Drought/Slow the Flow Toolkit to communicate to the public and media about drought and the steps that can be taken to conserve water. This toolkit includes social media posts and graphicsfliers and fact sheets including a Drought Response Tips one-pager, and lawn banners and yard sign images.

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