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Davis Journal

IHC landscaping overhaul estimated to save 17.5 million gallons of water a year

May 06, 2022 10:50AM ● By Becky Ginos

Intermountain Healthcare has required water-wise landscaping at all of its new facilities such as this one in Bountiful but is now planning a major overhaul of landscaping at some of the older campuses. Photo by Becky Ginos

(Editor’s Note—This is one of our continuing series of stories as part of our Davis Journal Water Watchers series)

Utah is experiencing a record breaking drought, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency and communities throughout the state to implement water restrictions. In an effort to conserve water, Intermountain Healthcare announced it will undertake a landscaping overhaul at its hospitals and clinics to help mitigate the impact of its facilities’ water use. The changes are estimated to save 17.5 million gallons of water a year.

“For a long time, larger facilities put in a lot of water intensive grass because it was cheaper and looked nice from an aesthetic standpoint,” Keith Pennington, landscaping supervisor for Intermountain Healthcare said in a release. “Our approach now means thinking about the impact of everything we plant before it goes into the ground and to work to help conserve as much water as possible.”

Intermountain is removing 19 acres of grass and planting more than 350 trees at five hospitals and clinics throughout the valley. In addition to saving water, the effort will reduce the need for repairs, fuel, fertilizer and regular mowing and is estimated to save more than $200,000 a year, the release said.

“A major benefit of our sustainability efforts means the money we don’t use on running our facilities can go back into funding our health programs for patients and the community,” Glen Carrick, system sustainability director for Intermountain Healthcare said. “We want to be good stewards in the communities we serve and this is another step towards that goal.”

Intermountain has required water-wise landscaping at all of its new facilities but is now turning its attention to the older campuses that have non-native plants and more grass. Not only does the savings come from the plants but through high-tech irrigation systems that monitor weather for rain and sends alerts for any leaks in the piping.

Many people don’t realize how important landscapes are to hospitals, said Pennington. “We want a beautiful place for our patients to be able to heal and relax outside and hopefully take their mind off their stresses. Some long-term patients may only get a few brief moments outside and we want to make sure the time they do have is special. We’re working to unite conservation and wise use of resources with ensuring our campuses are places of healing.” λ