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Salt Lake County Regional Development News

Mayor Jenny Wilson Proposes to Xeriscape Salt Lake County’s 132 Worst Park Strips to Save More Water

May 03, 2022

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SALT LAKE COUNTY – There are thousands of traditional park strips and parking lot islands full of grass across Salt Lake County-owned properties and facilities. A new water conservation proposal aims to prioritize the largest 132 with water-wise designs to save millions of gallons per year.

The proposed xeriscaping spans 39 different County facilities and were selected based on their size –totaling about three football fields – and therefore large water footprint, as well as diverse geographic spread across the valley. Flipping these strips will save Salt Lake County approximately 5.2 million gallons of water each year.

“The drought has increased our sense of urgency for water conservation, but that need already existed with Salt Lake County’s growing population,” said Mayor Jenny Wilson. “Last year we made a commitment to reduce our water use, and we did. This is one of many long-lasting conservation solutions that will help protect our residents’ quality of life, our watershed, and the future of the Great Salt Lake.”

A garden with rocks and plants.Park strips and parking lot islands are never used by the public and can range in size from a couple dozen square feet to thousands of square feet. Park strips consume on average 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of water each year, according to Utah Water Savers. The proposal also includes plans to make the sprinkling systems at the County’s Government Center more efficient by targeting priorities, like the trees.

"This proposal represents a proactive investment in water conservation measures by the County,” said Michael Shea, Salt Lake County’s Environmental Sustainability Director. “We are no longer looking at just cutting back water use but making concrete changes which will help us reduce in the long term."

The proposal to xeriscape 132 park strips and islands totals $2 million and is eligible for American Rescue Plan Act funds (ARPA).

At the beginning of the 2022 Water Summit, Mayor Wilson announced the County reduced its water use by 13% after she challenged all operations to cut use at least 5% in 2021. These new, proposed water saving measures will further the County’s overall reduction and long-term water-wise strategies.

Like Salt Lake County, residents can also conserve thousands of gallons of more water each year and help the Great Salt Lake. Find an available Flip Your Strip program in your city at and get a rebate when you replace lawn with water-efficient designs.

For more information about Salt Lake County’s water conservation measures and information shared at the 2022 Water Summit, visit

Phase 1 Proposed Park Strip Locations

Big Bear Park East Millcreek Library Lodestone Park Southtowne Expo Center
Big Cottonwood Park Fairmont Natatorium Meadow Brook Golf Course Sunnyvale Park
Bywater Park Flight Park Moonlight Meadows Park Wardle Fields Regional Park
Canyon Rim Park G.C. Parking Structure Mount Olympus Senior Center Welcker Memorial Park
Christmas Box House General Holm Park Mountain View Club House West Valley Library
Copperview Park Holladay Library Murray Athletic Field Wheeler Farm Activity Barn
Centennial Park Holladay Lions Recreation Center Oquirrh Park/Oquirrh Recreation Center Youth Services Center
Cottonwood Park Softball Complex Kearns Library Redwood Recreation Center  
Dimple Dell Fitness and Recreation Center Kearns Senior Center Ruth Vine Tyler Library  
East Mill Creek Recreation Center Library Maintenance Sandy Library  

Salt Lake County Pilots Innovative Workforce Program for Those Who Faced Higher Job Losses During Pandemic

April 15, 2022

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Did you know that low-income communities in Salt Lake County have lower enrollment and completion rates in workforce programs? Only 16% graduate college. They also have wages that are 50% lower than the average.

Some people get locked into cycles of intergenerational poverty. Life happens. A car breaks down. A single parent loses daycare. You get sick, miss work, and bills pile up. These things can prevent people from using programs that result in higher paying jobs.

Salt Lake County created a program to connect communities with resources to get into workforce development programs and finish. The program is called Workforce Inclusion and Successful Employment (WISE). It is funded with $10 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA).

Salt Lake County's program focuses on how wraparound services are key to people's ability to learn and be successful. Grants will be given to workforce development programs to outreach and connect people with existing services that will increase student completion.

Many parents need childcare to put time and energy into completing a program. Some students said mental health issues are a large barrier to completing programs. Others cannot afford to stop working full time to get more education. Wraparound services provide things like childcare, mental health care, stipends, and mentorship. But, students don’t always know these services exist or how to access them. WISE will fund navigators that guide students to these resources.

WISE will operate as a 5-year pilot. The program will help at least 1,500-2,000 Salt Lake County residents establish better careers, be more prepared for the future, and strengthen our economy.

Salt Lake County, and Utah, lead the nation in job placement. Once students complete workforce development programs, they'll be connected with high-demand careers. WISE supports our communities most in need and strengthens our entire County.

For more program information, contact Economic Development Director Jevon Gibb:

Salt Lake County Invests American Rescue Plan Funds in Regional Water Conservation Solution

April 14, 2022

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A landscape with trees and bushes.

Many residents are aware of Utah's struggle with the current drought — the worst in 50 years. 

January 2022 was the 18th driest month on record in the State of Utah in the past 128 years. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear to be easing up soon. As Salt Lake County continues to add more residents, water for current and future populations is a top concern.

Historically, planning for water supply and land use have taken place in separate silos. But, on April 12, 2022, Salt Lake County invested $2.1 million in American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds to create a regional solution to generate significant water savings.

The program, officially titled, "Integrated Water Conservation & Land Use Municipal Partnerships," helps each Salt Lake County municipality that wants to participate develop and execute its own land use and water conservation action plan. 

The program will guide governments through four planned phases:

Phase 1: Conduct research with municipalities on baseline water use.

Phase 2: Salt Lake County municipalities, water agencies, and stakeholders develop individual water conservation and land use action plans from workshops and professionals.

Phase 3: Salt Lake County municipalities with approved action plans will apply for grants to assist with implementing their water conservation measures.

Phase 4: Collect data from each participating municipality to analyze and produce reports.

Through regional collaboration in this ARPA program, Salt Lake County will see a new, sustained water conservation effort that will result in significant water savings within the next seven years. It will also help reach the Utah Division of Water Resources' goal of residents using 187 gallons of water per capita per day in Salt Lake County by the year 2030. 

The Salt Lake County Office of Regional Development will oversee the management of the program in partnership with the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

Salt Lake County Council Approves More Than $30 Million in ARPA Investments in Affordable Housing, Water Conservation, Workforce Development

April 12, 2022

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SALT LAKE COUNTY – Today, the Salt Lake County Council approved three major initiatives totaling $32.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to increase affordable housing inventory, prioritize water conservation, and innovate workforce development.

The $20 million infusion into the County’s Housing Trust Fund aims to fund the construction and preservation of 1,200 units near food, jobs, broadband, transportation, schools, and childcare resources.

“More affordable housing is desperately needed,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said. “There are way too many hard-working households that are left behind because of skyrocketing home prices, rising rents, and fewer options to choose from. Salt Lake County is listening to residents and responding with significant funding to build and preserve housing.”

During 2021, rental costs increased by 12% and homeownership costs increased by at least 28% in Salt Lake County. In March 2022, the median price for a Salt Lake County single-family home sold for $580,000. Meanwhile, the average salary for many local essential workers – retail, truck drivers, cashiers, cleaners, mail delivery, and others – remains $31,150. Residents, especially those impacted negatively during COVID-19, are simply facing too many cost barriers in accessing safe, affordable housing.

“Housing is one of the things that keeps us up at night,” Dina Blaes, director of Salt Lake County’s Office of Regional Development, said, “But, fortunately the County has a lot of expertise in affordable housing. So, we’re going to leverage our expertise with this new funding to enable thousands of families to remain living and working in Salt Lake County.”

The affordable housing funds will be distributed in the form of grants to community housing organizations, nonprofit housing providers, municipalities, and private developers closely reviewed by an application process overseen by the advisory board. Projects funded and units constructed with these affordable housing funds will help Salt Lake County residents in Qualified Census Tracts or that have low to moderate household incomes.

Workforce Development

A new program called Workforce Inclusion & Successful Employment (WISE) was also funded with $10 million. WISE aims to propel at least 1,500-2,000 students toward successfully completing programs that lead to higher-paying careers.

The five-year pilot focuses on outreach and connecting students with wraparound services, which are key to people's ability to learn and be successful. Grants will be given to workforce development programs to connect students with existing services like childcare, mental health care, and mentorship to increase program completion.

“I think this is an awesome opportunity for Salt Lake County residents who might be working two or three jobs. We’re making it easier for them to succeed with career goals that really help themselves and their families,” Jevon Gibb, Salt Lake County Economic Development Director, shared with the County Council.

Water Conservation

Many residents are aware of Utah's struggle with the current drought -- the worst in 50 years. Salt Lake County is also projected to add 600,000 residents by 2065. Water for current and future populations is a top concern for Salt Lake County.

To meet water challenges, Salt Lake County invested $2.1 million in a regional water conservation program to generate significant water savings by collaborating with municipalities and unincorporated areas to develop sound water conservation policies in tandem with land use action plans.

The program, to be jointly managed with the Utah League of Cities and Towns, will conduct research in partnership with municipalities and townships to establish baseline water use, then develop individual water conservation and land use action plans, enact approved action plans, and ultimately collect data from those that participate to analyze and report water savings.

These efforts will help the region reach the Utah Division of Water Resources’ goal of 187 gallons of water per capita per day in Salt Lake County by 2030.