ST. GEORGE – As higher temperatures roll in, so too do the annual watering restrictions implemented by the city.
During a meeting Thursday, the St. George City Council approved a request to enact the mandatory restrictions limiting outdoor watering with the city’s culinary (or drinkable) water to between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.
“This helps us use less water and keep our lawns healthy,” said Rene Fleming, the city’s energy and water resources coordinator. “As it gets hot in the summer we lose so much water to evaporation.”
It has been estimated that 60 percent of the culinary water used in the city during the summer months goes toward outdoor watering.
While mandatory, the water restrictions do not have any fines or penalties attached.
“There never have been any penalties attached to it, so it’s been an educational thing,” Fleming said.
Offenders are typically reported by neighbors or city work crews passing through the area, she said.
The individuals are contacted by the city and shown ways they can be more water efficient. It may be a simple matter of adjusting the times the sprinklers are in use.
Most people comply once they learn they’re in violation of the city’s ordinance, Fleming said.
Some residents have expressed frustration over the lack of penalties, Fleming acknowledged, adding she also wishes there was an enforceable mechanism in place that would help remind to water at night or early-morning.
The annual daytime watering restrictions are typically enacted in May and last through September or October, depending on when temperatures finally go down.
It is often asked whether restrictions apply to water used by large facilities like parks, cemeteries, golf courses, some schools and Dixie State University.
The 12-hour watering ban doesn’t apply there because the water these facilities and areas use is irrigation-quality. The system also has “much less production and storage capacity” when compared to the city’s culinary system, Fleming said, so they like to use the water as it is available.
This water is generally made up of reused water that is a mix of Virgin River water, brackish well water and treated effluent water from the city’s waste water treatment plant.
“It is a more efficient use of our water resources to have those facilities use irrigation-quality water rather than irrigate at night with high-quality drinking water,” water officials and Fleming have previously stated.
People who would like to learn how to water their lawns more efficiently can schedule a Free Water Check through the Washington County Water Conservancy by calling 435-673-3617.