A Case Study in Planning, Perseverance, Collaboration & Conservation
September 19th, 2023

Recently, CSU’s water program manager, Ed Andrechak, worked with a team of local leaders to help facilitate a turf removal plan and secure rebate funding for all 195 homes in Padre Lakes. This ambitious water conservation effort will convert 350,000 square feet of low-function turfgrass to attractive, water-efficient xeriscape. This story is still in its first chapter, but Padre Lakes demonstrated that consistent, unyielding effort can lead to incredible water conservation success and big long-term financial savings. Congratulations, Padre Lakes HOA!

Padre Lakes Homeowners Association is a neighborhood of 195 single family homes in Ivins. Built in the mid-1990’s, the neighborhood’s landscape is dominated by lawns and ornamental ponds, all of which are managed by the association.

In January 2023, the Padre Lakes HOA Board, led by President Grant Neerings and Lorin Parks, applied for lawn replacement funding from the Washington County Water Conservancy District’s fledgling Water Efficient Landscape Program (WELP). Guided by a detailed analysis of water use and cost, the HOA planned an extensive, seven-year lawn replacement project. The analysis showed a combination of rebates and association funds could be used to convert about 350,000 square feet of low-function turfgrass in the neighborhood, updating the landscape and insulating the association from escalating water costs. According to the analysis, the association uses 35-40 million gallons annually at a cost of about $150,000 per year. The HOA estimates the project will reduce annual water demands for the association by 14 million gallons per year, or about one-third of their total demand.

Shortly into their quest, they encountered obstacles. The rebate program design didn’t consider the financial implications for so-called master metered properties, where many homes share water from just a few water meters. Their neighborhood was considered a single entity by the program, entitling them to much less money than 195 individually-served homeowners.

Still, the board persevered, seeking advocacy through state water managers, congressional leaders, Ivins Councilman Mike Scott, and Conserve Southwest Utah’s Water Program Manager, Ed Andrechak. The WCWCD was sympathetic, but said state program rules limited their capacity to modify the program. The Padre Lakes board then met with state water managers and they revised the rules in the summer of 2023 to give water districts better control of rebate decisions.

In July, Ed Andrechak met with the WCWCD’s new Conservation Manager, Doug Bennett, and explained the dilemma of Padre Lakes. Bennett, who was recently hired from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, connected with Padre Lakes’ leadership a week later and began exploring solutions.

One month later, Bennett announced program modifications to the WCWCD board. Among the changes were provisions to create greater financial equity between common interest communities, such as Padre Lakes, and single-family homes. Furthermore, the WCWCD doubled the maximum rebate to $100,000 per year to encourage large-scale projects and allowed conversion of water features and ponds to qualify for the program.

“Tens of thousands of Washington County residents live in common interest communities where the landscaping is under the control of their association,” Bennett said. “We needed to take down barriers to ensure their participation.”