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Governor Cox Plans More Aggressive Water Conservation Measures

WEST JORDAN, Utah Even though Utah is receiving incredible rainfall in some parts of the state, the drought is far from over. So, Governor Spencer Cox plans to get aggressive about saving more water.

In a press conference today, the Governor said every water district statewide has reported significant water savings this year compared to the same time last year. But, due to the historic drought, everyone needs to do more, and it all starts with outdoor watering. That’s where 60% of Utah’s water goes.

Using the Conservation Garden at Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District as a backdrop, the governor focused on fast tracking water conservation.

He wants meters installed on secondary water systems statewide, which includes 1/3 of all residential customers. The majority of those connections are unmetered, and you can’t manage what you don’t measure, the governor said. According to state statistics, areas that have installed secondary meters reduced water usage 20 to 30%.

He also thinks water efficient landscape ordinances should be required from any development proposal. His goal: all new development will be water wise.

Governor Cox also wants to start a statewide turf buyback program to encourage all of us to replace some turf with water wise plants. He believes it would be the first state wide turf buyback program in the country.

“We need to plant grass in areas where it’s actively used, rather than using grass as the default ground cover that’s only walked on when it’s mowed,” Cox said.

That’s one of the core principals at the Conservation Garden. They haven’t completely eliminated turf grass from the garden, but they have replaced much of it with water wise plants.

“You can save about 2/3 of the water over a traditional landscape that’s all turf grass,” said Bart Forsyth, general manager at Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. “So, the curb appeal is great. The functional use of the yard is wonderful, and that’s exactly what I think Utah homeowners want.”

Many Utahns have already removed grass from parking strips which are inefficient for watering.

Right now, Utah’s water agencies are developing an expanded state water plan. And, that will be critical. The water manager at Jordan Valley Water tells me he’s very concerned about next year, as our water resources continue to shrink. That’s why it’s so important to turn off our sprinklers whenever we get some rain.

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