One thing that will soon become unforgivable in Las Vegas is useless grass.
There is a new Nevada law that will outlaw about 31 percent of the grass in the Las Vegas area. This effort is to conserve water amid a drought that’s drying up the region’s primary water source: the Colorado River.
Other cities and states around the country have enacted temporary bans on lawns that must be watered, however legislation signed a couple of weeks ago by Governor Steve Sisolak makes Nevada the first in the nation to enact a permanent ban on certain categories of grass.
Sisolak said last week that anyone flying into Las Vegas viewing the “bathtub rings” that delineate how high Lake Mead’s water levels used to be can see that conservation is needed. Sisolak stated “It’s incumbent upon us for the next generation to be more conscious of conservation and our natural resources — water being particularly important,”
The ban targets “non-functional turf” according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. It applies to grass that virtually no one uses at office parks, in street medians and at entrances to housing developments. It excludes homes, parks and golf courses.
The measure will require the replacement of about 6 square miles of grass in the metro Las Vegas area. By ripping it out, water officials estimate the region can conserve 10 percent of its total available Colorado River water supply and save about 11 gallons per person per day in a region with a population of about 2.3 million.
John Entsminge, General Manager of Southern Nevada Water Authority, stated “Replacing non-functional turf from Southern Nevada will allow for more sustainable and efficient use of resources, build resiliency to climate change, and help ensure the community’s current and future water needs continue to be met.
The ban was passed by state lawmakers with bipartisan support and backing from groups like Great Basin Water Network conservation group and the Southern Nevada Homebuilders’ Association, which wants to free up water to allow for projected growth and future construction.
When the ban takes effect in 2027, it will apply only to Southern Nevada Water Authority jurisdiction, which encompasses Las Vegas and its surrounding areas and relies on the Colorado River for 90 percent of its water supply.
The ban came as the seven states that rely on the over-tapped Colorado River for water — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — consider the prospect of a drier future.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two reservoirs where Colorado River water is stored, are projected to shrink this year to levels that would trigger the region’s first-ever official shortage declaration and cut the amount allocated to Nevada and Arizona.
In Arizona, farmers in Pinal County south of Phoenix have had to stop irrigating their fields because of the cuts. Nevada stands to lose about 4 percent of its allocation, although the state has historically not used its entire share.
I think we should all pray to the water gods and do a rain dance. It might not help, but it won’t hurt, since we need a lot of rain and snow in the southwest over the next few years to feed our rivers and lakes.
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