Washington County in southern Utah is both the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the US and the hottest and driest county in Utah. As its singular water source, the Virgin River, thins from climate-change induced drought and overuse, the county has some of the state’s toughest water conservation measures, including a program to “buy” residents’ grass which can dramatically cut landscape watering. “We’re projecting that by the end of 2024, our program participants will have transformed enough nonfunctional lawn to be equivalent to a roll of sod about 280 miles long,” says conservation manager Doug Bennett. Since 2000, the county has cut per capita water use by 30%, the most significant decrease in Utah, and aims to cut it further by another 14% by 2030.

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