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Midvale Journal

Salt Lake County breaks ground on ‘Flip the Strip’ project

Jun 03, 2024 02:00PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Mayors from Salt Lake County, Taylorsville City and Sandy City broke ground on the start of a “Flip the Strip” program to make county-owned landscapes more sustainable for the future. (Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation)

In a significant move toward sustainability, Salt Lake County celebrated the groundbreaking of the "Flip the Strip" project, May 16, at the Mountain America Expo Center in Sandy. The event, marked by the presence of Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson and other local officials, signaled the commencement of a $2.1-million initiative aimed at retrofitting park strips with waterwise landscapes across the county.

“Salt Lake County is committed to water conservation and smart water management. As such, landscape standards for waterwise park strips at county facilities have been identified,” the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office said in a “Flip the Strip” guidebook.

“Water conservation is a critical issue to the well-being of our community as we grow and adapt to the changes our landscape faces,” Wilson said. “‘Flip the Strip’ aims to reduce water use and promote drought-tolerant landscapes.”

According to the guidebook, the project is a testament to the county's commitment to addressing the pressing issue of water conservation amid frequent droughts and changing environmental conditions.

The "Flip the Strip" project targets the often-overlooked park strips—those narrow stretches of land between sidewalks and roads. These areas will be transformed into drought-tolerant landscapes, a move expected to save the county approximately 4 million gallons of water annually. The pilot program will be implemented at five key locations: the Mountain America Expo Center, the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office in South Salt Lake, Meadow Brook Golf Course in Taylorsville, Central City Recreation Center in Salt Lake City and Animal Services in Millcreek.

At the event, Wilson emphasized the critical importance of this initiative. “Salt Lake County is committed to long-term water conservation and smart management strategies in response to frequent emergency droughts and changing environmental landscapes. ‘Flip the Strip’ is just one way we are achieving this,” she stated.

The program, which allocates $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding, is set to convert four acres (177,860 square feet) of county-owned landscapes. This transformation not only aims to conserve water but also to enhance the aesthetic, environmental and economic value of these areas.

Involved in these efforts, the Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development, released on their website that waterwise landscaping offers numerous advantages, including functional and attractive designs that are easy to maintain. These landscapes are not only visually appealing but also significantly reduce water waste, a crucial benefit in a region often plagued by drought. 

Additionally, improved environmental health and economic savings are notable benefits. Less water usage translates to lower bills and simpler irrigation systems, which in turn reduce maintenance costs and enhance curb appeal, making neighborhoods and public spaces more attractive.

Salt Lake County is not stopping at retrofitting public spaces. The county challenges its 1.16 million residents to join the water conservation effort by reducing their own water use by 5%. If 25% of residents take up this challenge, the county could save approximately 2 million gallons of water daily. To help residents achieve this goal, the county offers practical tips. Reducing sprinkler use by 10% can make a significant difference. Watering during the cooler nighttime hours reduces evaporation and conserves water. Using a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks saves water and time. Adjusting sprinklers to ensure they water only plants and grass, not sidewalks or driveways, can help conserve water. Opting for drought-resistant plants, such as those native to Utah, can keep gardens beautiful while conserving water.

The "Flip the Strip" project is just the beginning of a broader effort to promote sustainable landscaping and water conservation in Salt Lake County. By leading through example, the county aims to inspire its residents and neighboring regions to adopt similar practices. 

Mayor Wilson said, “We anticipate that Salt Lake County will save around 4 million gallons of water with the conclusion of the five pilot locations. This initiative not only addresses immediate water conservation needs but also sets a precedent for future sustainability efforts.”

The project’s success will serve as a model for other communities facing similar challenges. Salt Lake County departments have planned to audit outdoor water systems to develop specialized water plans for current and future use. The county parks are relying on current technology to determine minimum watering schedules while continuing to maintain high-quality outdoor facilities.

For information on “Flip the Strip,” including details on rebates and resources from local government agencies, residents can visit the county's website at