Many homeowners take great pride in their lawns. They go to great lengths to prepare them in the fall so come spring they have a beautiful, healthy field of green. They spend hours manicuring them and keeping them in tip-top shape. But in the megadrought that’s looming over the West, such measures are discouraged. Colorado in particular has a long history of water scarcity issues, and according to the Associated Press, half of the water use in the state’s cities comes from lawn maintenance.
So lawmakers want to incentivize citizens to save water by paying them to not have lawns. House Bill 1151 would pay for replacing non-native and ornamental grass lawns with native plants and landscaping better suited to dry climates and pay home and business owners to keep the grass off.
“Rather than telling people you have to, this is an opportunity for people to come in and say I’d like to,” state Rep. Marc Catlin, vice chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water, told the AP.
The dream home with the white picket fence has a perfectly manicured green lawn, but such a thing is not suitable in every part of a vast and diverse country, and forcing lawns into arid landscapes is a huge water usage burden.
“There’s not any more water out there and what water is out there is becoming really expensive,” John Berggren, a water policy analyst with Western Resource Advocates, told the AP. “So let’s look at how we’re using it now.
“Now, in the 21st century, we know water is more limited,” he said. “The same old calculus doesn’t work anymore.”
Programs to replace lawns in other Western states have saved billions of gallons of water, and 19 Colorado cities, utilities, and water districts already have replacement programs. Expanding statewide would help ensure a more sustainable way of life.