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Utah governor outlines four ways to conserve water in drought

Utah Governor Spencer Cox announcing four new ways to conserve water amid the drought (Mary Richards)

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, along with water managers from around the state, announced Thursday four new ways to conserve water during the prolonged drought. 

Install secondary water meters to conserve water in Utah

Cox said one-third of all residential water connections use secondary or untreated water. But residents can’t gauge how much water they’re actually using. 

“The majority of these are still unmetered,” he said. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Cox added the areas that have installed secondary water meters have seen a 20%-30% reduction in water use.

According to Cox, the Weber Basin Water Conservatory District has installed 11,000 new secondary meters. He also said legislation passed within the past few years requires meters on new secondary connections.

Better integrate land use and water planning

Another step to conserve water outlined by Cox and water experts is to be more aware of how land usage will impact water sources. 

“How we grow to develop today will set our water use for decades to come,” Cox said. “Really our goal is [that] all new development will be water-wise development in the state of Utah.”

Utah farmers conserve water by implementing better, more efficient technology

Within the past year, efficient water technology saved millions of gallons of water, according to Cox. 

But the cost of water-wise technology can be burdensome to farmers who cannot afford the upgrades. But Cox noted the state government would be willing to help Utah farmers make the transition. 

“We want to accelerate that program to encourage and help farmers use less water and increase their yields,” Cox said. “We have the technology to do that. We have the funds to do that.”

Plant grass wisely

Cox said outdoor water use makes up 60% of the state’s municipal and industrial water use.

Turf buy-back programs help incentivize residents to replace the thirsty grass with water-efficient options. Cox said he would like to expand such programs beyond the local level. 

“We want to be the first state to offer a statewide turf buy-back program,” he said. 

Cox also said residents need to be mindful of where they are planting grass.

“We need to plant grass in areas where it is actively used,” he said. “Rather than using grass as the default ground cover that is only walked on when it is mowed.”

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