A small step in shifting our water culture
Despite the ongoing megadrought and looming environmental and health threats of losing our capital city’s namesake lake, Utah has struggled to change the culture around water usage. We continue to have some of the highest water usage rates per capita in the West.
There are various different landscaping methods and best practices that benefit water conservation. Some residents attempting to do their part in this aspect have experienced backlash, however, due to local ordinances that aren’t keeping up with the current situation. Some cities now, however, are requiring “localscaping” for all new construction. This localscaping initiative is described in a Salt Lake Tribune article as “35% or less of residential landscapes and 20% of commercial landscapes can have turf. It insists on efficient irrigation technology, native or low-water vegetation, and no lawns in areas like parking strips or steep slopes that are difficult to water as well.”
While this step is important, we need to remember that over development helped get us into this mess, and be careful that water “saved” will not become justification for continuing to over develop.
The plan also looks inadequate when compared to steps Nevada has taken, which include removing grass from existing landscapes, not just limiting it from new ones.
We are not in Nevada – and that means that action needs to be even more drastic here. “But in addition to growth, the Wasatch Front faces another issue other booming Western communities do not: the ticking time bomb that is the Great Salt Lake. If it continues to shrivel, the drying lakebed will likely turn into a toxic dust bowl. And if that happens, will people keep building houses here?” The Tribune writes. Apparently, local water conservancy districts barely, if at all, even factor the shrinking Great Salt Lake into their conservation reports.
Small steps like this need to continue to be encouraged, although more needs to be done.