Water conservation continues to be an important topic for Utah, which is no surprise as we are the second driest state in the country. Though the pressurized irrigation system has been shut down for the year, we are already looking at next year and beyond for ways to best promote water conservation while meeting the outdoor watering needs of residents. We want to do our part to help with statewide conservation efforts as we recognize water is an important resource. A few years ago, we updated our city code to allow for xeriscaping and we installed smart controllers at city parks. Looking to next year, we are planning to update our code and water policies in the following ways to encourage water conservation.
- Localscaping – This is a landscaping approach that considers the unique climate that exists in our area. It incorporates a mix of grass, waterwise plants, pavers, and other landscape materials that offers curb appeal and a reduction of outdoor water usage. We will be updating our code to promote this type of landscaping and will encourage HOA’s to do the same. For examples of what this looks like, please visit localscapes.com.
- Smart controllers – Research has shown that installing a smart controller can save a considerable amount of water. It uses local weather stations to help determine when your sprinkler system should water and skips watering during rainstorms or when enough precipitation has been received. For several years we have had odd/even watering days. We understand that an odd/even watering schedule doesn’t allow for a smart controller to operate in the most efficient way, so we are looking at removing watering day restrictions for those who provide to the city proof of purchase of a smart controller. Central Utah Water Conservancy District provides rebates up to 50% of the purchase of a smart controller. More information can be found at rebates.cuwcd.com.
- Park strips – One of the easiest ways to reduce outdoor water usage is to remove unusable grass, such as in park strips. Our current ordinance requires grass in park strips. We are looking to update that ordinance to allow for water wise planting and landscaping materials. Additionally, we are identifying city-owned park strips that contain unusable grass to convert into water wise areas.
- Commercial zone – Our current code requires commercial businesses to have 30% of their area landscaped. This often results in areas of unusable grass. In order to encourage more efficient use of water, we are looking to reduce that requirement and encourage water wise plants and other landscaping materials that look nice and are in line with our design guidelines, but that do not waste water.
Our hope is that the above measures will allow residents and businesses in our community to begin implementing ways to reduce outdoor water usage in order to help achieve statewide water conservation goals. As a city, we are dedicated to doing our part as well on city-owned property. Eventually, many cities will be required to install meters on all pressurized irrigation connections. For now, we continue to look for ways to encourage water conservation and believe these initial steps will be helpful for those who want to conserve and who want to start planning now for secondary water metering.