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Great Salt Lake is at its lowest water level on record and continues to shrink. Utah Public Radio has teamed up with more than a dozen Utah organizations for the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a group that has come together to share multimedia stories and rigorous reports about the lake and ways to protect this critical body of water before it's too late.

Bills on turf and water-wise landscaping advance in the Utah Legislature

A close up on a bright green lawn.  It focuses in on a small cluster of dewy blades of grass.

SALT LAKE CITY — Bills dealing with turf, landscaping and water conservation are moving through the Utah State Legislature.

On Wednesday, lawmakers gave final passage to House Bill 11, a water conservation bill sponsored by Rep. Doug Owens, D-Millcreek.

The bill was modified from its original goal to restrict turf on new government construction after objections from turf farmers, Sen. Ron Winterton, R-Roosevelt, told his Senate colleagues. So instead, the bill was modified to allow turf, but to prohibit sprinkler systems and require drip irrigation to water it.

In an interview with FOX 13 News, Rep. Owens said the new version of the bill accomplished the same goal of water conservation.

"It covers new government construction so schools, city, county buildings and any new road construction being done by any of those entities," he said. "They’ve got to use water-efficient drip systems for parking strips or center medians and stuff like that."

A bill offering incentives to developers to use water-wise landscaping is also winning support. Senate Bill 118, sponsored by Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, won unanimous approval in the Senate last week and will be considered by a House committee on Thursday.

Chris Gamvroulas, the president of Ivory Homes, said his company is doing more "localscaping," where native plants are used and lawn is only installed in areas where it would be used (like a home's backyard). At first, homebuyers weren't interested in it, he said, but more are embracing it as a way to do their part to help Utah's water situation.

The incentives help developers, Gamvroulas added, because localscaping is more expensive. But they are documenting water savings.

"We've done 2,700 homes since 2019. The cumulative effect of that in 2023 was 150 million gallons of water saved, cumulatively," he told FOX 13 News. "It’s like compounding interest. It just continues to grow as we continue to roll it out."

There are a series of bills moving through the legislature to help with water conservation and protecting the Great Salt Lake, which dropped to its lowest level in recorded history in 2022. Lawmakers have been trying to reverse the lake's declines while grappling with growth in the state.

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake—and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at