Professional skier John Collinson ski tours around Big Cottonwood Creek while modeling for a Smith Optics photo shoot in Brighton, on Monday, March 13, 2023.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Every drop of water counts in a state like Utah that has been plagued by extreme drought for years.
Water providers have enacted strict watering restrictions on landscapes, even cutting back in northern Utah on culinary water supplies available to cities. Everybody has been asked to save water.
Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council, is a passionate critic about Utah’s water use, excoriating what he says are wasteful practices and foolhardy pursuits of projects like the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline and Bear River Development.
But Frankel also puts his money where his passion is.
The Utah Rivers Council has joined with 12 municipal partners with its RainHarvest rain barrel program. As the Great Salt Lake has shrunk to its lowest water level on record, growing numbers of Utahns are wondering how to help. This is part of that effort, according to the council.
Residents of Millcreek, Salt Lake County, Cottonwood Heights, Murray, Sandy, Herriman, Lehi, Orem, Park City, North Ogden, Summit County and customers of Mountain Regional Water can purchase rain barrels for a greatly subsidized price of just $55, while supplies last. Residents can order discounted rain barrels at rainbarrelprogram.org/urc.
To purchase discounted rain barrels, residents must go through a verification process to ensure they reside within a participating municipality. Rain barrels are available to all Utahns for just $83 outside of these municipal boundaries. Both prices are a big discount from the American-made rain barrel’s $139.99 retail price. Purchased rain barrels will be distributed to residents at four locations after the sale closes in late April.
“Even with the winter we’ve all just endured, water conservation is still of utmost importance to Murray City Water,” said Aron Frisk, the water supervisor for the Murray City Water Department. “It’s my belief that programs like the RainHarvest program that promote outdoor water conservation should be practiced and promoted. That is why we are here.”
Rain barrels are one of many tools Utahns can use to reduce water use. Almost 8,000 barrels have been purchased through the Utah Rivers Council’s RainHarvest program over the last eight years. This means every time it rains enough to fill a 50-gallon barrel, 400,000 gallons of water can be saved from municipal water supplies.
Capturing rainwater also improves water quality by preventing urban runoff from flowing over streets and gutters, washing pollutants into streams, and eventually into the Great Salt Lake, the council said. The environmentally friendly program uses the Ivy Rain barrel, made in the United States from 100% recycled plastic.
Rain barrels give residents the opportunity to become stewards of water conservation through a hands-on experience that past participants have said completely changed their perspective on water.
“According to the EPA, 30% of daily water is used outdoors. In the Snyderville Basin, that number is closer to 55%,” said Andy Garland, the general manager of Mountain Regional Water district. “Mountain Regional Water is pleased to continue our partnership with the Utah Rivers Council to offer residents the opportunity to affordably conserve water through rainwater collection by purchasing a heavily discounted rain collection barrel.”
After the sale ends in late April, residents who purchased rain barrels can pick them up at a designated date and location where volunteers will be on-site to teach participants about the importance of rainwater harvesting and other water conservation strategies.
“We’ve saved millions of gallons of water through this program over the last eight years,” Frankel said. “These 12 municipalities are leading us on a path through this megadrought that all Utahns need to follow. We are grateful to them for their leadership.”