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Mayors of Utah Valley: Small changes to our water use can have a great impact

By Mark Johnson - Lehi Mayor | May 1, 2022

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

The Sand Pit Reservoir is pictured Wednesday, July 11, 2018, at the Lehi Water and Sewer Department.

Gov. Spencer Cox recently issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency for all of Utah due to drought conditions for the second year in a row. Utah has been impacted by drought in eight of the last 10 years. I join Gov. Cox in my concern over the drought and again ask our community to be cautious in how we use this precious resource.

This year, we have asked Lehi residents to wait to water until at least May 1. Once it is necessary to water, Phase Three of our water management plan will be in effect, which states that water users may not water more than two days a week with at least two days in between watering cycles. While we may not win the award for the greenest landscape, our lawns will endure the summer and we will be able to have enough pressurized irrigation water to endure the hottest, driest months of the year.

As Utahns, we are becoming accustomed to pleas to conserve water. I was impressed by the response from Lehi residents last year, which resulted in saving over 1.066 billion gallons of pressurized irrigation water. What an epic collective effort.

I learned some very important lessons following our 2021 watering season. I would like to share some of those with you in a hope that we may be able to make a lasting impact for years to come.

First, a smart controller is worth the investment. Most have an app on your phone that allows you to make quick changes when certain areas start to suffer. They also monitor weather conditions and automatically adjust for weather and temperature changes, reducing water waste.

Courtesy photo

Mark I. Johnson

Second, set your lawnmower height to at least three inches. I set mine to the second-highest setting and it became clear that the ground did not dry out as fast. This will help your roots grow deeper, and the grass will be more tolerant to drought.

Third, consult a professional regarding fertilizer and lawn care. Fertilizer, when applied correctly, will keep your lawn looking healthy. Aerating your lawn in areas that frequently dry out will help the water reach the roots. A professional can help you understand how proper maintenance can have a great impact on the overall health of your lawn.

Finally, use a drip system in flower beds and other non-turf areas. This will decrease the amount of water wasted from wind and overspray on hard surfaces.

I have been amazed at how these small changes have impacted the health of my lawn despite the limits on watering and drought conditions. I encourage each of you to make a concerted effort to limit your use of water, make small changes to your landscape maintenance, and find a more efficient way to live in this desert.

Let’s work together to save another billion gallons of water in 2022.

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