Currently Reading

Utah Town Enacts Construction Moratorium as Drought Dries Up Water Supply

Housing Markets

Utah Town Enacts Construction Moratorium as Drought Dries Up Water Supply

July 21, 2021
drying up water reservoir
Photo: whitcomberd |

The 1,750-person town of Oakley, Utah boomed at the height of the pandemic as remote workers flocked to the outskirts of larger urban areas, including nearby Salt Lake City. But the influx has not spurred a new construction spike seen in other areas—it spurred a construction moratorium. It’s an attempt to restrict growth amid the town’s scorching drought, reports the New York Times. No new homes that connect to the town’s water system are allowed to be built as 99.9% of Utah experiences severe drought conditions. Oakley’s mayor said the decision was made to protect the residents.

Across the Western United States, a summer of record-breaking drought, heat waves and megafires exacerbated by climate change is forcing millions of people to confront an inescapable string of disasters that challenge the future of growth.

Groundwater and streams vital both to farmers and cities are drying up. Fires devour houses being built deeper into wild regions and forests. Extreme heat makes working outdoors more dangerous and life without air-conditioning potentially deadly. While summer monsoon rains have brought some recent relief to the Southwest, 99.9 percent of Utah is locked in severe drought conditions and reservoirs are less than half full.

Yet cheap housing is even scarcer than water in much of Utah, whose population swelled by 18 percent from 2010 to 2020, making it the fastest-growing state. Cities across the West worry that cutting off development to conserve water will only worsen an affordability crisis that stretches from Colorado to California.

Farmers and ranchers — who use 70 to 80 percent of all water — are letting their fields go brown or selling off cows and sheep they can no longer graze. Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah said all but one of the fields on his family’s farm had dried up.

“It’s just brutal right now,” said Mr. Cox, who also asked the faithful to pray for rain. “If we continue to grow at the rate we’re growing now and have another drought like this in 10 years, there will be real drinking-water implications. That’s the thing that worries me the most.”

Read More

Related Stories

Housing Markets

Third Quarter Metro Affordability Report Reveals a Tight Market for First-Time Buyers

Despite major supply shortages driving up competition, price growth deceleration signals more market balance in the future

Market Data + Trends

More Millennials Entering Mobile Home Market to Avoid Record-High Housing Prices

Not only are mobile homes affordable housing options for first-time buyers, but they also accommodate on-the-go lifestyles for the post-pandemic house hunter

Housing Markets

Metro Denver Reports Low Housing Inventory in November

Ongoing housing shortages are creating a competitive Denver market


More in Category


Create an account

By creating an account, you agree to Pro Builder's terms of service and privacy policy.

Daily Feed Newsletter

Get Pro Builder in your inbox

Each day, Pro Builder's editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Save the stories you care about

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

The bookmark icon allows you to save any story to your account to read it later
Tap it once to save, and tap it again to unsave

It looks like you’re using an ad-blocker!

Pro Builder is an advertisting supported site and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled in your browser. There are two ways you can keep reading:

Disable your ad-blocker
Disable now
Subscribe to Pro Builder
Already a member? Sign in
Become a Member

Subscribe to Pro Builder for unlimited access

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.