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Health, Science & Environment
The Southwest Utah Bureau is based in the St. George area, and the reporting focuses on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues, faith and spirituality and other topics of relevance to Utahns.

Cedar City sets voluntary lawn watering schedules for the summer

Cedar City, historic downtown sign, April 13, 2021
David Fuchs
/
KUER
Downtown Cedar City, Utah.

As Utah’s drought marches forward, Cedar City officials have once again implemented a voluntary outdoor watering schedule for its more than 35,000 residents.

People with even-numbered addresses can only water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Those with odd numbers can water Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There’s also a mandatory time of day watering ordinance in place.

The city council unanimously approved the restrictions in April. They also did so earlier than last year, in an effort to catch people before they set their irrigation systems, noted Robbie Mitchell, the city’s water department supervisor.

“I'm asking that we adopt this resolution right off the bat,” Mitchell told the council in April, “[to] get people to start to conserve water, to be mindful of if we [have a similar] year like we [did] last year, it's going to be tight with water.”

Currently, most of Utah is in severe to extreme drought. Gov. Spencer Cox has already issued an emergency drought declaration urging people to reduce water use heading into the summer.

In making the schedule voluntary, Gabrielle Costello, the city’s public information officer, said they hope residents will come together to do the right thing and conserve water on their own.

“The voluntary irrigation schedule is intended to keep everyone using the water that they want to use to keep their lawns green,” she said. “But kind of cut back on the days that are maybe unnecessary.”

If the restrictions “are not effective in conserving water and recharging water infrastructure,” the resolution states they may become mandatory. Costello said that will depend on how local water supplies are doing later this summer.

The city is also raising water rates in July for the first time in a decade. It will be a tiered system and is an effort to “reward people for using less water,” Costello said.

Cedar City relies on underground or aquifer water. The aquifer is sinking due to overuse, and Iron County water officials are looking for other sources. The controversial Pine Valley Water Supply Project is under federal environmental review, but officials admit it’s not the solution to fully address Cedar Valley’s water supply issue.

The Central Iron County Water Conservancy District, which services Cedar City, is also asking residents to think about water conservation. They suggest scheduling a free water check, or removing parts of their lawn and replacing it with water-efficient plants.

“Conserving starts with me and you,” said Paul Monroe, general manager of the district, in a press release. “Each community member can help make a difference when they water less.”

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