Skip to main content

West Jordan Journal

Council to consider adopting new watering ordinance

Jun 01, 2021 11:36AM ● By Justin Adams

A park in Taylorsville incorporates more water-wise planting and only turf in usable space. (Image courtesy JVWCD)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District presented to West Jordan City Council why large, sweeping lawns are outdated and unhealthy for the state’s future.

“We’re looking at a 75% increase [in population] within JVWCD [service area] between now and 2065,” Bart Forsythe from JVWCD said. “This assumes a slow to moderate growth in the west bench.”

“I can only do so much with my yard,” Councilmember Chris McConnehey said. “But, when I drive by [schools] and churches and city parks and I’m wondering how much of an impact I’m really having with my own couple of thousand square feet.” 

Of the outdoor water used, “⅔ are homeowners, ⅓ is commercial/institutional,” Forsythe said.  “If homeowners were to adopt water efficiency in their yard there would be [a] significant reduction.”

“The study concluded that there is enough water to meet the needs of JVWCD’s existing service area,” Forsythe said. “So long as new construction conforms to a series of water efficiency standards.”

“We’re in a position where we can be proactive,” Matt Olson from JVWCD said. “We can learn from other states. It’s frequently the case [in other areas] where water providers have had to take drastic and extreme emergency measures to meet the demands of a growing population. Now we're experiencing very similar conditions. “

Their suggestion for ordinances for new construction in the city is “35% max on lawn, put it in a central open shape,” Olson said. 

They also suggest prohibiting turf in park strips and narrow areas less than 8’ wide, or on steep slopes.

For commercial use they recommend, “...lawn is less than 20% of the landscaped area (except active recreation,” Olson said. 

“We’re not anti-turf,” Forsythe said. “We just think that turf needs to be installed in areas that are smart. Turfgrass seems to be the default. We think that’s where it needs to stop.” 

Since 1948 the average temperature in Utah has increased by five degrees, contributing to the increased water consumption. 

City Council will consider adopting new water ordinances in June.