ST. GEORGE —The statewide drought has forced churches in St. George to adopt innovative methods for maintaining their grounds—specifically, their lawns.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates 20 church buildings in St. George. The Church also owns the St. George Temple, but it is undergoing reconstruction. Other denominations may turn green with envy when they compare the state of their lawns to the Church’s patches, which remain plush and vibrant.
An article on the Church’s website addresses this issue. “Environmental Conservation and Stewardship Efforts” notes that in arid climates, the Church has installed smart controllers, hydrometers, rain sensors and drip irrigation systems to maximize water usage. The Church uses reclaimed water for irrigation. The Church also maintains a database of plants species that thrive in less-than-hospitable conditions. At its headquarters, the Church has upgraded its irrigation system with smart controller technology. When the controllers reach full capacity, the Church anticipates a water savings of at least 30%.
On the other side of the watering controversy, Grace Episcopal Church and Red Mesa Fellowship rely on xeriscaping to combat the ravages of drought. Xeriscaping is a form of dry-plant landscaping. Instead of turf and other vegetation that require extensive watering, xeriscaping utilizes cacti, succulents, lavender and other vegetation that require only minimal irrigation. These plants are typically planted near each other to further reduce water consumption.
Saint George Catholic Church maintains a small but thriving lawn. The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City has stated publicly Catholic churches across the state have reduced watering to twice a week and to three times a week in Southern Utah.
St. George Mayor Michele Randall told St. George News, “The city attorney has discussed with church leaders the issue of re-assessing their lawns and they are open to the idea,” she said. When asked if the city plans to enact new rules governing water use, Randall replied, “We’re working on ordinances. But new ordinances would grandfather in existing properties.” Randall said the city doesn’t want to tell people they can’t have their lawns.
In an interview with Fox 13 news, Randall said she has noticed churches have adopted the city’s recommendations on water usage. Referring to the condition of some lawns, Randall said, “The grass isn’t looking too great right now.”
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