Southern Nevada gets a jump on its ‘non-functional’ grass ban amidst ongoing megadrought

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A study published way back in 2007 touted the benefits of drip irrigation, especially as it relates to residential water consumption. Sadly, AB 356 does include a carve out on single-family homes, so if a property is zoned as such it’s up to the owner to decide how they want to conserve water. The law does apply to commercial property, homeowners associations, and housing developments. According to the Southern Nevada Water Authority, this elimination of nonfunctional grass will “save our community an estimated 9.6 billion gallons of water per year.” 

Already, other cities are eying similar water conservation measures. Aurora, Colorado, which partially relies on the Colorado River Basin as one of its sources of water, will have its city council review its own nonfunctional grass ordinance. As the Gazette reports, the ordinance would primarily target cool weather turf like Kentucky bluegrass and fescue and bar its use in new golf courses and for new developments and redevelopments. Cool-weather grass would also be prohibited on street medians, residential front yards, and even in curb landscapes. Limits would be placed on backyards with cool-weather turf.

Nevada Independent reporter Daniel Rothberg argues that this is “just the beginning” to address rampant overuse of the Colorado River and worsening climate change that has pushed water resources to the brink. Writing in The New York Times, Rothberg details the consensus from experts that more must be done than just conserving enough water to stave off crisis but leave those reliant on the river on “the razor’s edge.” Southwesterners cannot live like they’ve been living if they want to come out of the present drought sustainably. Rethinking what landscaping looks like may be a crucial first step in that process.

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