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Davis Journal

Layton’s conservation efforts pay huge dividends

Aug 06, 2021 10:39AM ● By Becky Ginos

Layton City’s ordinance reduces the amount of required greenery and allows for xeriscaping in parking strips. Photo by Becky Ginos

LAYTON—Severe drought conditions have prompted the state to take drastic measures to conserve water but Layton City is already seeing a positive impact from the ordinances they’ve put in place. Gov. Spencer Cox highlighted the city’s efforts in a recent statement on the state’s watering plan.

“This drought has caused all of us to reevaluate how we conserve and motivated us to do more,” said Cox. “So many Utahns are doing their part to save water, which is fantastic, but there’s much more we can do.”

Cox listed Layton City as one of the state’s success stories. According to the city, Layton residents used 94.9 million fewer gallons of water in 2021 than in 2020. During April and May of 2020, residents used 775 million gallons of water. In 2021, residents used 680.1 million gallons during those same months.

“We didn’t start off changing the landscaping ordinance because of the drought,” said Steve Garside, Layton City PIO. “We’d been working on it for quite some time. We were going through the process and the timing of it happened to hit with the drought.”

The city approved a waterwise ordinance in June. “It reduces the amount of required greenery and gives additional flexibility to working within the landscape ordinance on parking strips,” he said. “Now residents can do xeriscaping or something that doesn’t necessarily involve Kentucky bluegrass. I’m confident we will save 5,000 – 8,000 gallons a year by not watering the parking strip.”

Garside said the city uses an evapotranspiration formula to make sure the comparisons between years are truly comparable. “That formula contemplates several factors regarding the water needs of plant life based on the overall weather conditions, including temperature.”

The formula anticipated that in June 2021 water usage would increase by 86.4 million gallons compared to June 2020, he said. However, conservation efforts limited that increase to only 17.5 million gallons.

Residents are being asked to follow watering guidelines, said Garside. “Don’t water when it’s windy. Water food producing plants first, then trees, perennials and grass last.”

There are smart watering systems in the city, he said. “We’re keeping the main park (Layton Commons) pretty green to give people a respite from the rest of the desert. It’s home to a lot of activities. It’s a gathering place so we reallocated resources as we reduced water consumption.”

It’s also a safety issue, said Garside. “The turf needs to be supple enough so when players fall they don’t get hurt, so those playing fields are maintained for safety.”

The efforts the city is making are doing well, he said. “We’re concerned about secondary water being turned off early and what we don’t use now will be in reserve for next year in case we have another poor winter.”

There’s been great cooperation from the residents, said Garside. “We’ve had a public information campaign to educate people. So far it’s been voluntary compliance for citizens. We haven’t had to do anything from law enforcement at all. We’ve had great cooperation and we appreciate that.”

However, Garside said they’re not out of the woods yet. “We still keep hoping and praying for rain.”