LOCAL NEWS

Washington County implements most restrictive water ordinances in Utah

Aug 3, 2022, 11:50 AM
FILE: (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)...
FILE: (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah — The largest cities in Washington County have implemented new water ordinances to help protect water resources in what a press release called the nation’s fastest growing region.

The new measures include a ban on non-functional grass for newly-constructed commercial, institutional and industrial developments, and a limit on grass at new homes.

New golf courses in St. George will also not be approved unless the development can provide its own non-potable water source for irrigation, according to a Wednesday morning press release from the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

The ordinances were said to be the most restrictive for new construction in the Beehive State.

“We can’t risk running out of water,” said Zach Renstrom, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District (district). “Prolonged drought has threatened our only water source – we have to make changes to how our community uses its water to protect our economy and quality of life.”

Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox said, “We applaud Washington County’s water conservation accomplishments and current efforts, including setting a higher development standard in the state with these new municipal ordinances.”

“Our future depends on every community in Utah making water conservation a top priority,” Cox said.

The ordinances also require the use of secondary (untreated) water and reuse (treated wastewater) for outdoor irrigation where available, according to the release. Currently, the county uses that to irrigate parks, schools, golf courses, city-owned facilities and some residential neighborhoods.

“The district is developing a regional reuse system in partnership with its municipal customers that will significantly enhance the availability of reuse water for future development,” the release stated.

Other ordinance requirements include:

  • Hot water recirculation systems
  • Water-sense labeled fixtures
  • EnergyStar appliances
  • Submetering of multi-unit facilities
  • Restrictions on water features including misting systems
  • Water budgets for golf courses
  • Limits on water used by car wash facilities

The new ordinances are projected to save nearly 11 billion gallons of water over the next 10 years, according to the release.

Officials said each municipality will enforce its new ordinance, adding that cities will review received water waste complaints and monitor metering data to notify and issue penalties to non-compliant customers.

“To help encourage compliance, the district will begin assessing an additional fee for high water use in 2023. Money generated from this fee will fund water conservation programs, including rebates to replace grass with water-efficient landscaping,” the release stated.

The county’s long-term water supply plan, according to the release, includes additional water conservation and reuse, local source optimization and new resource development.

“Washington County has already reduced its per capita water use more than 30% since 2000 – the greatest reduction in water use in Utah – and is planning for an additional 14% reduction by 2030, using 2015 as the baseline year.”

NOTE: The Washington County Water Conservancy District is a not-for-profit public agency that oversees water resources in Washington County, UT. Visit wcwcd.org for more information. 

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Washington County implements most restrictive water ordinances in Utah