‘The drought begs our immediate attention’: Mayor lists water-saving measures, possible restrictions

ST. GEORGE — Ongoing and future actions to save water during what has been characterized as the worst drought period in decades were outlined during a meeting of the St. George City Council on Thursday.

St. George Mayor Michele Randall during a meeting of the St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, June 17, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the city of St. George/CEC, St. George News

“The drought begs our immediate attention and requires that everyone work together to formulate solutions that will decrease our water usage,” St. George Mayor Michele Randall said as she read a prepared statement at the start of the meeting.

Randall said the city has implemented “significant water saving measures over the years” at city facilities and will continue to do so as the drought continues.

Among the actions taken by the city include the removal of turf sod at city parks and replacing landscaping with more drought-friendly plants.

As for additional and immediate measures the city is pursuing, they include the following:

  • Restricting the watering of parks to three times a week for functional grass and two times a week for nonfunctional grass.
  • All water features within the city will be shut off with the exception of splash pads in parks, as those run on recirculated water.
In this file photo, children play at a splash pad at the Town Square Park during the 38th annual St. George Art Festival, St. George, Utah, April 14, 2017 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

All the city’s cemeteries, golf courses and most city parks are on a secondary water system. This is water that is not considered drinking quality and is either unable to be treated into drinking water or is treated sewer water. Use of this water for outdoor watering aids in prolonging the city’s supply of drinking-quality water.

It is a long-term goal to put all of the city’s outdoor watering on a secondary water system, Randall said Thursday; however, the infrastructure needed hasn’t been built yet.

The mayor said the city may also impose the following water-use restrictions, which would “save significant sums of water” as the summer progresses:

  • Limit noncommercial car washing, such as washing a car on a street or in the driveway.
  • Limit all residential and commercial landscape watering to three times a week.
  • Postpone the installation of any turf sod until after September.
  • Adopt landscape ordinances limiting the amount of turf sod a new development can have.
  • Adopt an ordinance limiting the ability of Home-Owner Associations to require turf sod as a part of community landscaping.
  • Fix preexisting and outdated ordinances that require turf sod as a part of an incoming development.

As the actions city residents can take to save water, Randall listed the following:

Stock image, St. George News
  • Use less water on lawns. Allow them to turn yellow.
  • Use brooms to sweep paved surfaces instead of hosing them down with water.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Observe the city’s daytime water restriction and not water between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“This isn’t a time to panic or point fingers,” the mayor said. “What it is, is a time to work together to find solutions. …By being proactive we can continue to maintain the high quality of life that we enjoy.”

Scott Taylor, the city’s water services director, was also asked to address the City Council about the city’s drought management plan.

The plan was originally adopted in 2001 and involves four stages that are triggered based on supply and demand needs. The first stage involves voluntary conservation, while the fourth stage has the city allocating available water.

“We don’t want to have to implement that management plan,” Taylor said. “We want to be good stewards of the water.”

The mayor’s statement on the city’s water use measures comes in the wake of both Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and the Washington County Water Conservancy District calling on cities across the state and within the county to implement stricter water-saving measures, as well as increasing rates on excessive water usage due to the drought.

Ed. note: Report clarified to indicate the city of St. George already uses a secondary water system for the city’s cemeteries, golf courses and most city parks.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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