Restrictions on golf courses, non-functional grass among Washington County strict water rules

Aug 3, 2022, 4:00 PM | Updated: Aug 8, 2022, 11:55 am
water restrictions Washington County...
FILE: View from the Entrada Golf Course in St. George lookin towards Snow Canyon. (Stuart Johnson via Deseret News)
(Stuart Johnson via Deseret News)

ST. GEORGE, Utah — With an eye on saving 11 billion gallons of water over the next decade, officials in Washington County have adopted what they call Utah’s most restrictive water ordinances designed to help avoid a water shortage.

For example, the county’s largest cities will no longer allow what’s described as non-functional grass for new construction projects that are commercial, institutional, or industrial developments.

And new golf courses won’t be approved in St. George unless the builder can provide its own non-potable water source to use as irrigation.

“We can’t risk running out of water,” said the General Manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, Zach Renstrom in a press release. “Prolonged drought has threatened our only water source – we have to make changes to how our community uses its water to protect our economy and quality of life.”

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, 100% of the population in Washington County are currently affected by drought. The entire county is considered to be under extreme drought, meaning that the risk of fire is high, even native vegetation is stressed, and stream flow is low.

The new ordinances also ask residents and businesses to use secondary, or untreated water for outdoor use when it is available. This is a practice that is already used by the county to water parks, schools, golf courses, and some neighborhoods.

Residents are also asked to use WaterSense products and EnergyStar appliances. And car washes are asked to limit the water they provide in their services.

“We applaud Washington County’s water conservation accomplishments and current efforts, including setting a higher development standard in the state with these new municipal ordinances,” said Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox.

“Our future depends on every community in Utah making water conservation a top priority.”

Enforcement of new Washington County water restrictions

The Washington County Water Conservancy District said that each of the county’s municipalities will enforce the ordinances. They will also issue penalties to customers that are non-compliant.

Beginning in 2023, to assure compliance, the District will charge an additional fee for high water use. In a press release, the District said these fees will fund water conservation programs. Those include rebates to customers that replace grass with more water-efficient options.

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Restrictions on golf courses, non-functional grass among Washington County strict water rules