West Valley City Legalizes Artificial Turf During Utah Drought Emergency

It is Utah’s second largest city to admit the artificial grass.

(FOX 13) An aerial view of homes in West Valley City as the drought takes a toll on lawns.

In front of the town hall, some lawns look a little different than others.

Look closely and you’ll see that it’s not real weed. West Valley City experimentally replaced part of the lawn around City Hall with artificial turf.

“Make it a demo project, that’s the way to go. It’s looking good,” West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle told FOX 13 News. “This has been in effect for, I would say, six months. One of the things we wanted to do was test it out all winter and see how it would wear. It is worn very well. We’re pretty happy.”

Last month, the West Valley City Council voted to pass an ordinance legalizing artificial turf. It was never specifically banned, but leaders in Utah’s second-largest city have decided to give it their blessing. The ordinance requires “green, lifelike individual blades of grass that mimic natural turf in appearance and color, have a minimum pile height of 1.5 inches and a minimum basis weight of 50 ounces per square yard.”

“The minimum stacking height for high-traffic areas such as playgrounds may be reduced to 1.25 inches,” the regulation adds.

Some communities still have restrictions on artificial turf. A man in Saratoga Springs broke city ordinances by installing them on his front lawn. City ordinances only allow for backyard use.

Allowing artificial turf is one of many options cities are now considering to conserve water during Utah’s ongoing drought emergency, said Cameron Diehl, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

“There are other cities from St. George to Logan that are reviewing their landscape ordinances,” he said in an interview with FOX 13 News.

Many cities and towns are eliminating parking lanes and moving from a “minimum” amount of lawn to a “maximum” amount of lawn. Others rely on local scaping, using plants and grasses more native to their part of the state.

That year, the Utah state legislature passed a series of water conservation laws. One prohibits cities from banning water-wise landscaping and xeriscaping.

“The other thing that lawmakers have done this year with the support of the Cities Association is that we actually presented them with legislation that says as part of a city’s overall plan that a city must proactively conserve water,” Diehl said .

Other councilors will begin unveiling landscaping ordinances in the coming weeks and months, he added.

West Valley City Hall allows local residents to stop by and feel the difference between artificial turf and real grass up close.

“(Artificial) turf has improved in quality and as a consumer product,” said Pyle.

It’s easy to care for and doesn’t require water, he added.

“Save some water, and we know that will increase costs and availability, right? So why not consider this type of option?”

This article is published by the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that brings together news, education, and media organizations to educate people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake — and what can be done to help make a difference before it’s too late. Read all of our stories below West Valley City Legalizes Artificial Turf During Utah Drought Emergency

Joel McCord

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