Board working to cut water use by 25%

Members of the Water Conservation and Drought Management Advisory Board continue to work on the next update to the City of Moab Water Conservation Plan with the ambitious and overarching goal of reducing indoor and outdoor culinary water usage by 25 percent in 2021.

The board met April 10 and discussed the plan – which was last updated in 2016 – and while no action was taken, there was an unspoken sense of urgency.

The 2016 report has a lengthy laundry list of conservation efforts the city could undertake, and three years later, only a fraction of them have been completed.

While many other communities in the arid Southwest have banned grass lawns and the planting of trees that require a significant amount of water, both lawns and trees are common in the city – but the fifth bulleted item on the 2016 is to “adopt a water efficient landscape ordinance.”

Public education is key to the advisory board’s mission and this year they want to spread the word about smart outdoor watering. Other items on the list include the creation of plumbing codes that require the use of more efficient fixtures. New developments – particularly in the commercial sector – have embraced this concept, perhaps in part due to the city’s goal of rewarding contractors who use new technologies, such as high-efficiency urinals, toilets, commercial washing machines and dishwashers.

The plan also calls for mitigating the “existing inefficiencies” in residential plumbing.

One promising aspect of the plan calls for a revision to codes that would allow graywater systems and composting toilets within city limits.

While the above items come with some costs involved, the plan also calls for prohibiting the hosing down of sidewalks and washing cars with a hose without a nozzle that can be closed when not in use.

Assuring that all large new developments “must be linked to assurances that there is an adequate water supply over a 20-year period” is a goal prior to approval. The 2016 plan also calls for adopting a green infrastructure ordinance for stormwater management to “protect water quality, increase localized groundwater recharge, and offset landscape irrigation through matching plantings with green infrastructure treatments.”

Another rule that would cost nothing in the 2016 plan is a prohibition on outdoor watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The plan must be updated every three years.