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This Grass Can Save Salt Lake City Residents Water and Money During Utah Drought

SALT LAKE CITY – The grass in the little park at the corner of Concord Street and California Avenue looks like any other lawn.

But the specially created herbal mixture called “SLC Turf Trade“Uses at least 30% less water than others, while still looking green like it’s been watered daily (which you’re absolutely not supposed to do during drought).

“Even in the heat of summer, once a week,” Stephanie Duer, Salt Lake City water conservation officer, told FOX 13 News as she stood barefoot on the grass. at the Concord lifting station. “It’s only watered once a week.”

Duer worked with Utah State University and the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance to create the special blend.

“I contacted them providing them with certain criteria in terms of what we were looking for as an alternative to traditional bluegrass turf,” she said. “And they’ve identified this, which is a mixed mix. So there’s two different dwarf tall fescues, and then bluegrass. And the bluegrass here was actually tested to be a very low water bluegrass, but it’s sowing very quickly, which is why we wanted to include it.”

Salt Lake City Public Utilities has started selling bags of grass seed mix to customers — at cost — to encourage people to try it. People can buy it for $8.50 a bag, which will cover 1,000 square feet. To install SLC Turf Trade, you will need to kill off your existing lawn. But grass seed is designed to grow quickly in the dead thatch of old lawns.

In the two weeks since SLC Turf Trade’s bags went on sale, word has spread quickly. Duer said she was about to run out and planned to order more for fall and spring planting. Salt Lake City utility customers who want it can order it online and pick it up in a city establishment. Utilities tracks who buys it to measure overall water and cost savings.

“If you don’t want a lawn? Cool. There are many wonderful ways to design your space. But if you want lawn, you can choose a beautiful lawn, save water while providing a pleasant place to the kids can play, for a picnic, for the dog to run around,” she said.

Water managers across the state are noticing residential water conservation is increasing as Utah’s mega-drought continues.

“In major population areas, we’re seeing water reductions between 5 and 27 percent, which actually equates to billions of gallons of water saved,” said Candice Hasenyager, director of the Water Resources Division. from Utah.

Data provided to FOX 13 News by the division shows an increase in voluntary water conservation across the state. For example, the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District documented 1.05 billion gallons of water saved over last year’s savings. Interest in turf buyback programs in its Salt Lake Valley service area jumped 69%.

The Washington County Water Conservation District documented an additional 11.5 million gallons saved this year, while recording a 4.6% increase in water connections due to growth. Cities in Washington County passed a series of strict new landscaping ordinances this year. The Water District estimates that this will ultimately translate into billions of gallons of water savings over the next 10 years.

The Weber Basin Water Conservancy District saw a 27% drop in water demand this year alone, which equates to additional savings. Salt Lake City Public Utilities documented 2.5 billion gallons of water saved only by residents who have voluntarily kept for the past three years given the persistent drought and peril facing the Great Salt Lake. This eliminates the need for strict water restrictions, Duer said.

“Our service area is doing great,” she added.

Hasenyager said the conservation is expanding the water that Utahans can use during the ongoing drought. Longer-term solutions under consideration include increased changes to landscaping and reductions in water use in future planning. Agriculture is being pushed to use more water-saving technologies.

Water saved today means water for residents tomorrow, she said.

“Any water that we don’t use is either stored in our reservoirs or in our groundwater. It is then available for future use. In addition, it can increase instream flows and lake levels depending on their location in the state and conservation savings occur,” she said.

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that brings together news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake and what that can be done to make a difference before it’s too late. Read all of our stories at greatsaltlakenews.org.