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City Council to decide on changes to landscaping requirements in Ogden

By Deborah Wilber - | Jun 28, 2022

MARK SHENEFELT, Standard-Examiner

Drought-tolerant plants are featured at a conservation learning garden at the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District in east Layton on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

OGDEN — As the city works toward encouraging water-wise landscaping, Ogden City Council members are considering significant changes to landscaping requirements for new commercial and multifamily residential development.

Proposed changes include limiting lawn turf requirements, looking at water-wise plants, installing leak detecting control systems and water-wise irrigation methods such as drip tape.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that we’re in this situation,” Ogden City Planning Manager Greg Montgomery said.

Utah is the second driest state in the country, averaging 12.2 inches of rain annually, according to Montgomery. In the early 2000s, the city made revisions and adopted ordinances to allow for different types of landscaping when Ogden residents started inquiring about turf requirements in the wake of increasing drought conditions.

Montgomery said while cycles of drought are not new to Utah, their increasing frequency is of real concern.

Water-wise landscaping may no longer be optional but rather a requirement come July 5, when council members are expected to vote on the matter.

A public hearing was held with the planning commission May 4 regarding proposed changes to the landscaping ordinance. The proposal was forwarded to the city council with a recommendation for approval.

Ogden residents will have an opportunity to express any concerns before the council prior to voting.

According to city documents, water usage typically goes up in the spring and summer, from mid-April through the end of September, with the average residential usage increasing from 3,000 to 30,000 gallons a month.

Reducing water waste is top priority for the city, and in order for Ogden to participate in the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District’s water-efficiency program, called Flip Your Strip, there must be a water-wise landscaping ordinance in effect.

Landscaping is reportedly one of the most visible and controllable areas of water management.

“Water has a myriad of uses, but it’s a limited resource,” Montgomery said.

City officials say they want to enhance the aesthetics of lawns with water-efficient landscaping to assure sensible use of the city’s water resources. According to city documents, doing so will allow for a growing population while ensuring an adequate water supply within the city.

In collaboration with Weber Basin’s Park Strip Lawn Conversion Program, the council is proposing the city adopt a financial incentive of $1.25 per square foot to match WBWCD for a total of $2.50 per square foot to be paid for those who participate in the program.

With parking strips in Ogden averaging 600 square feet and $100,000 from WBWCD, the city estimates they will be able to provide 133 parking strips through the Flip Your Strip program.

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