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Utah launches statewide water-wise landscaping incentive program

A xeriscape is one water-wise landscaping solution. In Utah, xeriscapes often include native plants such Utah serviceberry, bitterroot, crimson columbine, and prairie sagewort.
Jeremy Levine
Xeriscape is one water-wise landscaping solution. In Utah, xeriscapes often include native plants such Utah serviceberry, bitterroot, crimson columbine, and prairie sagewort.

Businesses and homeowners across the state can now receive up to $3 per square foot when they replace their grass with water-efficient landscaping. Programs are in place for both Park City and Heber residents.

With Utah’s growing population, the demand for water is on the rise. Currently in the state, 60% of residential water use goes towards outdoor irrigation.

In an effort to conserve water, the state is incentivizing residents and business owners to replace their thirsty grass lawns with waterwise plants and landscaping.

On Monday, May 1, Utah Governor Spencer Cox announced the new landscape initiative through the Utah Water Savers program.

“In Utah, it's been said before and I'll say it again we are either in drought or preparing for the next one. We need to take action to ensure that we are always prepared,” said Cox. “With the launch of the much anticipated statewide landscape incentive, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact on our state's water resources and create a more sustainable future for all Utahns.”

The landscape incentive program received $3 million in ongoing annual funds and $5 million in one-time funding in2023 from the Utah Legislature, and $5 million in one-time funds in2022.

Only property owners that live in municipalities that have adoptedwater efficiency standards are eligible. Those areas are served by Central Utah, Jordan Valley, Washington County, and Weber Basin water conservancy districts.

This means residents and business owners in Heber can apply. Those interested are eligible to receive anywhere from .50 cents to $3 per square foot with a limit of $50,000 per project. And any project over 200 square feet can qualify.

While residents in Park City aren’t currently eligible for the state’s incentive program, Park City has a plan of its own.

As of May 1, residents and property owners can apply to receive $2 per square foot for turf removed and replaced with waterwise landscaping.

This program is only available to 84060 residents and businesses that currently have turf lawn irrigated with Park City water. Residents can apply for landscaping rebates up to $10,000, and commercial properties can seek up to $50,000.

Susan Cordone, a water analyst with Park City Municipal, says transitioning away from nonfunctional turf can save millions of gallons of water every day and still result in eye-catching landscaping.

“What we're looking for as a whole, as a conservation community if you will, is just using water where it's needed,” said Cordone. “The thought behind it is if you've got square footage of turf that is only being walked on when it's being mowed. In other words, it has no functional use, then our thoughts are, you know, why not turn that into a, you know, a beautiful waterwise landscape that is just not as thirsty as the turf?”

Cordone already has three appointments scheduled with Park City residents interested in taking part in the landscape initiative program.

To learn more, click here.