Many Denverites love their lawns. But as climate change brings hotter days and long droughts, Colorado lawmakers have set their sights on water-guzzling grass.
In June, state legislators passed House Bill 1151, otherwise known as the Turf Replacement Program. The law requires the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop cash incentives for Coloradans to tear up their turf and replace it with “water-wise landscaping.” This is meant to encourage xeriscaping, among other options: trading lawns for a decorative mix of drought-tolerant plants, such as Blue Avena Grass, Mexican Feather Grass, Spanish Gold Broom, catmint, and Mojave Sage. The program won’t go into effect until 2023.
According to a Colorado State University study, outdoor water use along the Front Range accounts for nearly 55% of the residential water use, the majority used on lawns. In Denver alone, residents use up to 120 million gallons per day to water lawns, according to experts.
Meanwhile, the Colorado River Basin, “is experiencing its driest 22 years on record,” notes the Denver Gazette.
Denver7 reports that “more than a dozen cities in Colorado already have similar programs.” Such programs across the West “have saved billions of gallons of water,” it adds, “paying property owners anywhere from a few dimes to a few dollars for every square foot of turf they replace.”
Lawmakers lauded the passage of the bill, “water is the most precious resource we have,” Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, who sponsored the bill, told Colorado Politics. “This new bipartisan law is a win-win: It will save Coloradans money on their water bills and reduce water use in the metro areas, all while promoting the innovative landscaping industry.”