Why Pay for what God is giving away free?

Merrill Bingham, the City’s previous Public Works Director, was known for sharing bits of wisdom. One day while it was raining, he humored us by saying, “Why pay for what God is giving away free?”

We try to live by that advice here in the City by not not watering or being wasteful with water when God is giving it away.

I share that with you so it’s clear that we understand how important water is and we try to be as diligent as possible to not be careless with it.

One of my least exciting calls to get is one telling me that a city-owned property has its sprinklers on in the middle of a frog-strangling typhoon. My immediate reaction is to call someone and get it taken care of right then.

I thought I’d share with you a few things I learned about the complexity of monitoring each and every Provo facility by passing along some facts that I think will surprise you.

Did you know that Provo’s irrigation system is responsible for 75 different sites? That breaks down to 1200 irrigation valves and 10,000 individual irrigation heads. It’s easy to guess that at least one of those valves is going to malfunction at some point.

Again, we don’t want to waste and understand that we operate under a microscope. There are a handful of reasons you might see our sprinklers on during non-prime times or when it’s actually raining outside. For example, the system is being tested or repaired by one of our technicians. With so many valves and heads, our crews spend hours upon hours replacing them in the summer. Another reason you may see us presumably wasting is trying to get sod or other plant material to “take”. If there’s damaged grass that’s being replaced, it’s important it gets water quickly.

The city has shifted some of its thinking too when it comes to how we manage our grounds. We understand that we live in a desert and need to conserve, so the things we’re planting and using are water-friendly. As we complete parks, we think about how the new sites are going to help us conserve water when they’re designed. We use low-water plants, rock and wood chips to prevent soil water loss and schedule our water applications during times with lower evaporation rates (8:00 pm – 10:00 am).

It’s important to state that we do our very best in the city to make sure that we take care of a resource as important as water. Provo’s leaders for generations have done an amazing job at assuring we’re tee’d up for success into the future – even on years like this when we didn’t get much snow.

All this said, we know we aren’t perfect. If you see something and feel you’d like to report it, call our Parks Division at 801.852.6606.

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  1. Jessica

    I still can’t believe I’ve never heard of water restrictions being instituted here (I’ve lived here in Provo for 8 years). In dry months of dry years to see people out watering their lawns at midday is crazy to me. Every other place I lived had water restrictions from time to time and I think it’s mostly because people here aren’t educated about how much more evaporates than gets soaked up by the lawn. So, thank you for this post and I look forward to seeing more!

  2. Celeste

    I am curious what the best way to alert out of state property owners or even just out of the area. One place near me, last year really started taking care of their place and the trees and grass look great after much work, but now the sprinkler is still set to run like it is new grass and there is so much ran. I feel bad they are going to have a big water bill when they do not even need to water. And I would hate foe the ground to actually get a grass mold and kill all their efforts of last year.

  3. Gladys

    I am with Jessica 100%. It is ridiculous to water during the day.
    I think a restriction should be on that.

  4. Gillespies

    We don’t need a new law or policy, just keep educating and the wise people of our city will govern themselves

  5. Cindy B

    Am I conserving water so you can build new homes/apts ( showers, laundry, cleaning, lawns of new residents)? I have been conserving water for 20 yrs here in Provo. Only to see it being given away to new construction.

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