LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Water is precious and can’t be taken for granted in the desert. We’re in the midst of a drought and Lake Mead levels continue to drop to threatening new lows.
A federal water shortage could be declared for the Southwest which would include Nevada.
Wasting water is a huge mistake and non-native grassy lawns have been targeted as the greatest source of water-waste in Southern Nevada. However, if you’re willing to part with your grass, you could earn some cash.
When it comes to water usage in the Las Vegas valley, more is used outdoors to keep lawns lush and plants blooming than is used indoors for showers, laundry and such.
The agency that manages the water supply says it’s a waste of the community’s most critical resource as we try to avoid a thirsty future.
“Because we are the driest city in the driest state in the nation, anything that grows outside has to be irrigated and grass is one of the most water-intensive landscapes that we can have here,” said Bronson Mack, Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Water that comes from outdoor sprinklers is only used once unlike the water indoors which gets recaptured, treated, and used again.
Cutting out unnecessary grass saves water and helps bank valuable reserves, Mack said.
“If you aren’t playing on that grass, picnicking on that grass, that’s grass that you should really be thinking about replacing.”
When the signs of a drought began 20 years ago, SNWA nicely asked residents to start saving water where they could. But as the population boomed and the long dry period has taken an extreme toll on withering Lake Mead, the message became tougher. Conserving has become the cornerstone of insuring there will be water later.
Enforcing strict seasonal watering schedules is working and paying homeowners and commercial properties to remove non-functional grass has reached a successful milestone.
This community has actually now removed enough grass that we could stretch an 18-inch wide strip of turf around the full circumference of the Earth. That’s a considerable amount of grass that’s been removed so far. It adds up to more than 197 million square feet or more than 4,500 acres which is equivalent to 3,400 football fields or more than 110 Allegiant Stadiums full of grass.
That will save around 10 billion gallons of water every year. But even more water could be saved if more grass was removed.
“That’s about half of all the non-functional turf that’s out there in our community. So, we still have about another 5,000 acres that we need to replace with water smart landscaping,” Mack said.
The program pays a hefty $3 for every square foot of grass removed in your yard or commercial property when you trade for more efficient, adaptable landscaping that is water-smart like the desert environment we live in.
Click here for more information on the Water Smart Turf Rebate Program.
There is proposed legislation to ban all existing decorative grass by the end of 2026 but according to the SNWA that would not impact single-family residences, only commercial properties, streetscapes, medians, and HOA areas with unused grass.