Stock image | Photo courtesy of Süleyman Şahan, Pexels, St. George News
HURRICANE – After nearly a year of debate by Hurricane town officials, a new water conservation ordinance was voted on at Thursday’s town council meeting. the prescription limits commercial and residential water use, targeting new construction projects and not pre-existing developments.
“I’m sure we have a very serious water problem,” Councilman Joseph Prete said. “It took us 10 months to get to where we are, but we finally have a draft ordinance with water restrictions.”
Under the new ordinance, grass owned by commercial businesses is not permitted outside of active recreation areas and is prohibited on landscaped areas less than eight feet wide and on landscaped slopes that exceed an incline by 15%. Commercially owned turf is also prohibited on all strips of the park.
The ordinance requires commercial landscape, irrigation, and project plans to be approved by the city, trees and bushes to be water-efficient and prevent soil erosion, and construction projects to implement city-supplied secondary irrigation water instead of culinary water, if irrigation water is available. .
New developments in residential areas cannot have grass outside of active recreation areas, if maintained by a homeowners association. Like trade restrictions, grass cannot be on the park strips.
Prete said that while he would like to see more restrictions in the order, he agreed with what the order outlined.
However, the ordinance did not pass without significant opposition.
Councilman Kevin Thomas moved to pass the ordinance exactly as proposed, but no one seconded his motion.
The two members most hesitant to approve the ordinance were councilors Doug Heideman and David Hirschi. Heideman was concerned about the lack of residential restrictions in the ordinance.
“I like business regulations, but I think we need to revisit residential regulations,” Heideman said. “I think two sentences are missing enough.”
In fewer words than Heideman, Hirschi expressed that his hesitations about the ordinance were tied to his religious beliefs and his experiences with local voters.
“I believe the Lord will provide us with water, but we have a lot of worries, email after email,” he said. “Let’s consider what our voters want.
Hirschi was the only council member to explicitly include religion’s place in the hurricane’s water dilemma, but his statement echoed a potential solution for water that Utah Governor Spencer Cox , proposed on June 3, 2021. statement:
“By praying together and collectively asking God or whatever higher power you believe in for more rain, we may be able to escape the deadliest aspects of the continuing drought,” Cox said.
The council bounced around possible residential restrictions for about an hour, with very mixed responses from council members. Thomas adamantly opposed additional residential restrictions.
“If we have to do anything, the only thing I want to restrict is construction. Let’s target where the water is really wasted – not in our homes,” Thomas said.
Councilman Joseph Prete proposed that two additional commerce-focused changes be added to the ordinance: new construction projects must use “water-smart” sprinkler control, and proposed grass restriction zones by the district would double in size.
When proposed, this version of the ordinance passed and won council approval, 3–2 with Heideman and Hirschi opposed.
Prior to this ordinance taking effect, Hurricane construction companies used culinary water in their projects, which included spraying large areas of pavement and concrete.
Since June 1, the hurricane has banned residential grass watering between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. to limit water wastage. This new ordinance places the hurricane alongside surrounding desert communities who are making significant changes to the city to adapt to the oppressive drought.
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