There has been a lot happening in Washington County lately.
I lived there for a year, and got out as quickly as I could. I couldn't take anymore clogged roads, burgeoning growth, or disappearing open space. And it isn't a place that's very welcoming to young people. There aren't any hang-outs for young adults that aren't LDS: no dance clubs, and only two bars. It's a town that, if you move in after high school, is a very hard place to find people like yourself.
But more than any of that, the main reason I left is the gluttonous lifestyle of the people that live there. Beyond the developments called things like Foremasters Ridge (a foremaster being basically a slave driver), which places monstrous houses above the rest of the town so we could all be reminded of our place, there are the expansive lawns, pools, and gardens that have no place in such a parched landscape.
And the leaders down there are scrambling to plan for more growth. As the fifth fastest growing county in the nation, Washington County also has the distinction of consuming the most water per capita in the nation. This in a place that recieves an average of 11.2 inches of rain a year. They want to pipe in water from Lake Powell, build more evaporation-prone reservoirs and make water cheaper to buy.
What they should be doing is taking a cue from developments like Kayenta, that, while still have pools, require the vast portion of each lot to remain natural landscape, thus using very little water. Phoenix, AZ has also been wise, as in the following policy:
"It is hereby declared that, because of the conditions prevailing in the City of Phoenix, the general welfare requires that the water resources available to the City be put to the maximum beneficial use to the extent to which they are capable, and that the waste or unreasonable use, or unreasonable method of use of water be prevented, and the conservation of such water is to be extended with a view to the reasonable and beneficial use thereof in the interests of the people of the City of Phoenix and for the public welfare. (Ord. No G-3335, § 1)"
I'm calling on the cities of Washington County to implement conservation instead of further waste. Give residents the incentives to xeriscape at least portions of their yards, or give tax breaks to those who do. Implement restrictions on when residents can water, since watering in the middle of a 110 degree day is extremely wasteful. Require new construction to use low-flow technology on faucets, toilets, and irrigation. Xeriscape city and county buildings and facilities. Treat each year as if it were a drought year, and then development can happen with less worries.
Conservation is a conservative value too.
Read more about Phoenix's Water Conservation Plan here.
This is not just a Southern Utah problem. All of Utah needs to jump on the conservation bandwagon. Read more here.
More about planning in Washington County here.