How Utah Reports Water Use

Utah has one of the most comprehensive water use accounting practices in the United States. Unlike other cities or states, Utah includes all potable (treated water), secondary (untreated water) and reuse (treated wastewater) by all users (residential, commercial, institutional and industrial) in its gallons per capita per day (GPCD), thereby reflecting complete water use information.

Water Use in Washington County

Tracking water use is an integral part of Washington County’s comprehensive water plan and helps set local goals, improve watering practices and demonstrate accountability.

In 2019, Washington County residents used 159 gallons per person daily. Factoring in all potable water use (residential, commercial, institutional and industrial), the total was 209 GPCD. The total system water use was 271 GPCD (see chart below).1 

Washington County Leads Utah in Water Conservation

Residents in Washington County have made great progress in reducing water use. As the hottest, most arid area in Utah, water conservation is essential to the county’s future. The Washington County Water Conservancy District (WCWCD) and its municipal partners have invested $70 million in recent water conservation efforts. In fact, Washington County was the first county to meet the governor’s statewide water conservation goal to reduce use by 25 percent. In many ways – especially landscape design – Washington County leads the state in water conservation.

Additional water conservation is an integral part of Washington County’s comprehensive water supply plan through 2070.


Water Use — When Raw Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story

How WCWCD Compares to Other Water Users

1 Utah Division of Water Resources, 2019 Municipal and Industrial Water Use Data. June 2020

Gallons Per Capita Per Day

Water use is typically reported in gallons per capita per day (GPCD) – the water used per person per day – by most water providers. GPCD is helpful in estimating future water demand as well as tracking use and conservation achievements. Simply put, GPCD is calculated by dividing water use by the population, divided by 365 (the number of days in a year).

However, there is not currently a national standard for how water use and/or population is determined. Some cities and states only report certain types of water use and/or apply a credit for water that is returned to the system; some calculate population by applying the average person per household to all residential units (rather than using U.S. Census Bureau population estimates). These practices decrease water use and inflate population to generate lower water use numbers—drastically altering the data.

In addition, GPCD does not account for the climate and demographic differences of communities, which also significantly impact water use. For these reasons, water providers discourage the use of GPCD numbers to compare water use efficiencies.