FILE – In this file photo from July 16, 2014, what was once a marina is high and dry due to the receding Lake Mead in Arizona’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Arizona will not have completed all elements of a Colorado River drought plan by the March 4 deadline set by the federal government, state water officials said on Tuesday. February 19, 2019. It’s the latest obstacle to the seven-state plan to take less water from the drought-starved Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of agricultural land. (AP Photo / John Locher, file)
(AP Photo / John Locher, file)
SALT LAKE CITY – The good news for Utah is that residents saved water during the summer. Salt Lake City and Sandy City saved 2.8 billion gallons of water this year compared to the same period last year. But the bad news is that 79% of the state remains in an extreme drought, according to the Utah Water Resources Division.
A Utah lawmaker has proposed continuing to conserve water in the state by relaxing some rules.
House Bill 95 by Representative Ray Ward (R-Bountiful) prohibits certain government or private entities such as homeowners associations from requiring an owner or resident to plant or maintain a lawn or turf when ” lawn or turf ”does not include a golf course, park, sports field or sod farm.
Ward joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic of KSL NewsRadio to discuss his bill for the next legislative session.
“Why are you sponsoring this bill? Dujanovic asked.
“Well, because I think we have to find other ways to make our yards look good that aren’t the ones that use the most water,” Ward said.
About two-thirds of Utah’s drinking water is used for watering lawns and landscapes, according to the Utah State University Center for Water-Efficient Landscaping.
Let residents choose
Ward said that under his bill, HOAs are to provide another option besides lawns only when making their rules. Noreiga asked if local control of lawns and watering rules made more sense than the legislature dictating what those rules should be.
“Obviously, what works in Duchesne County may not work in Weber County, Davis County or Salt Lake, aren’t they the best prepared to make these decisions? Noriega asked.
“If it was only Davis County that had experienced a drought, then maybe it did,” Ward replied. “But the drought does not meet these limits.”
An impact on drought in Utah
He stressed that the state will have more impact on drought by acting as one instead of as many different entities.
Noriega said he wanted to set up his garden and set up some landscaping, but found the option too expensive.
“The cheapest option I had was really grass and turf,” Ward said. “I’m not taking this option from anyone. You can always put sod. Whoever wants to put sod can put sod. I’m just saying the city can’t force you to put sod.
Noriega asked if there was a sunset clause in his bill, because some years of water might be better than others.
“What’s always frustrating, every time we talk about drought does it go away if we have a really wet winter and fill the reservoirs? Noriega asked.
“Well, even though the levels of precipitation we receive remain the same as the state grows, the water needs are increasing,” Ward said.