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West Valley City Journal

City planning new water conservation measures for residents

Jan 06, 2023 11:57AM ● By Travis Barton

New city provisions would allow residents to take advantage of statewide incentives starting this spring by removing lawn in parkstrips and having a maximum of 35% lawn in the front and side yard. (Flickr)

In November, the West Valley City Council gave city staff the green light to work on changing city code that would eliminate landscaping in parkstrips and reduce the percentage of allowable lawn in new development.

The state legislature passed House Bill 121 last year that appropriated $5 million ongoing for a statewide grass removal incentive program. Part of the program offers applicants up to $1 per square foot for removing grass and replacing with drought-resistant alternatives. 

The program will be launched on this coming spring. 

The initiative is in response to Utah’s drought issues of recent years. West Valley City officials have spoken at length during the past two years about possible measures to enable better water conservation on a city level. 

While certain water efficiency programs already exist through Jordan Valley Water and Granger Hunter Improvement such as the Flip Your Strip and Localscapes Rewards, the new state program can be layered on top of those existing programs. This would allow residents to receive up to $2 per square foot beginning this spring. 

However, state residents must reside in a city or county that meet certain ordinance requirements in its code to be eligible. 

Community and Economic Development Director Steve Pastorik’s two proposed provisions to the council were first: no lawn on parkstrips and in areas less than 8 feet in width. 

And second: no more than 35% lawn in front or side yard of a residential setting. 

Pastorik explained the first provision already applies to developer-installed landscaping, but not residential and there is no current restriction on lawn in front or side yard. 

“To be eligible for new funding, you would need to make these two changes to our code,” Pastorik explained to the council in November. 

The council unanimously supported the measure with a vote expected to come in early 2023. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity for our residents,” Mayor Karen Lang said. 

Funding incentives through the state program would be administered through the website and residents would work directly with state. 

The provisions would continue the city’s efforts to tweak its current code to encourage water-saving actions. In April, the council approved changes to its landscaping code adopting standards for artificial turf installation.