STK - Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain City Council approved spending $40,000 on phase II of a water conservation research project Tuesday night.

The project, phase I of which began in 2017, is in partnership with Utah State University, which is paying an additional $73,000 for the second phase of the project. According to Evan Berrett with Eagle Mountain, the university actually took a special interest in Eagle Mountain because of the city’s size and growth rate, which provides a unique opportunity for water conservation research.

“We are just kind of (in) a unique situation to assess our water conservation,” Berrett said. “(And it’s) an effort to ... influence design for a smarter water conservation strategy down the road.”

A major component of the project is water map analysis, Berrett explained. Using an advanced imagery tool, the university researchers identify landscape features for any kind of property, distinguishing between trees, bushes, turf and so on. Once the university researchers have their image or images, the city shares water meter data for the researchers to compare to the landscape, essentially giving the property a “score” for how efficiently it’s using and conserving water.

The data collected has allowed the city to identify trends and target educational materials towards those who need them, based on how well individual residents or businesses use water — some, Berrett said, may be unsure of how to water certain landscapes, while other may be overwatering.

Residents in need of some guidance with watering will be invited to do a “water check,” where a professional can come and give them personalized advice. “Water checkers” may check for broken sprinkler heads, advise a specific water schedule, or provide another related service. The water checks also supplement the water map analysis, Berrett said.

The final component of the project, according to Berrett, will be homeowner education, which in addition to water checks will include the creation of educational videos that teach about things like different soil and turf types, empowering homeowners to take care of their own water conservation efforts on their own time.

Next year will be a critical year for data as the research project wraps up, Berrett said. The last bit of data will allow for the completion of the water maps, which will aid the city as it seeks to be smart about development and educate residents.

“We’re fortunately in a very unique position where we can get ahead of this,” Berrett said. “We felt like (the research project) is a good thing to participate in so that down the road, we have a good water management strategy, we have everything in place we need to make sure we don’t have water issues.”

With large projects in particular, like the Facebook data center being built in Eagle Mountain, good water conservation plans are critical. Berrett said currently Facebook, will be doing things like recycling water multiple times to cut down on water use.

Tuesday night’s meeting, which discussed an amendment to the city’s general plan, also saw comments from council members about the importance of being forward thinking. The proposed amendment was to change two-thirds of a 162-acre area from being zoned as an employment center/campus to add in an agricultural/rural zone, a neighborhood residential zone and a commercial zone.

Council members in general were against the proposed change, insisting on the importance of planning for continued residential growth, which also requires the creation of space where people can work.

“There’s likely to be more big projects like (the Facebook data center) in Eagle Mountain ... so everything we can do to get ahead of that, that would be ideal,” Berrett said.

For more information on water maps, visit https://eaglemountaincity.com.

Carley Porter covers northern Utah County and business for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at cporter@heraldextra.com.

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