Drought: Western US cities to ban grass | Kingman Daily Miner

SALT LAKE CITY – A group of 30 water utilities for homes and businesses across the western United States has pledged to pull out large amounts of ornamental grass to help conserve water in the overflowing Colorado River.

The agreement signed Tuesday by water agencies in Southern California, Phoenix and Salt Lake City and elsewhere reflects the rapid shift in the American West away from the manicured lawns that have long been a totem of urban life. it is rooted near the streets, near the fountains. and between office walkways.

Weeding efforts are focused on areas where people are not active, such as in front of online stores, streets or neighborhood entrances. It doesn’t say how cities plan to tear up golf courses, parks or backyards, though some may pay homeowners to voluntarily replace their lawns with more space. drought.

In addition to reducing ornamental grass by 30%, the organizations say they will strengthen water efficiency, add more water and consider actions such as changing the way people pay for water to encourage conservation.

“Recognizing that a clean, reliable water supply is essential to our society, we can and must do more to reduce water use and increase reuse and recycling in our facilities.” service,” reads the memo.

The agreement did not include details on how much water the agencies were willing to save collectively, but cities account for about a fifth of the Colorado River’s water use. The rest goes to agriculture.

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“Towns – 20% – cannot solve the math problem. But we can certainly contribute to solving this problem,” said John Entsminger, General Manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

This commitment, which is simple, can encourage organizations to provide payment for property owners to remove grass and establish a drought-tolerant desert area. The commitment to eliminate 30% marks the first time water agencies across the region have all committed to a number that focuses on one type of water use. It comes as states are pushing to reduce their use to meet the demands of federal officials who say the cuts are necessary to maintain river conditions and protect public health, food systems and hydropower.

The letter adds signatories to an earlier agreement of five major water districts reached in August. Water agencies in Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Denver are among the signatories.

Denver Water spokesman Todd Hartman said the city hopes to replace about 75 million square feet of the decommissioned area but did not share how much water it would save. He said the department hopes to start programs in 2024.

Regardless of conservation, the new commitment would amount to far less conservation than is needed to keep water flowing into the Colorado River and prevent its major reservoirs from shrinking to dangerously low levels.

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Phoenix wants its program up and running this spring; it will be the first time the city has offered a fee for people to tear up grass, said Cynthia Campbell, the city’s water resources management consultant. Although there is no program, many people have removed the grass. In the 1970s, about 80% of households had grass covering most of their property; today, it’s 9%, but that doesn’t include areas outside city limits, he said.

Like others, he emphasized that pumping water into the cities will not solve the problems of the river. “There is no municipal conservation status in the entire western United States that would require water to be conserved,” he said. But, “we give until it hurts, as much as we can.”

This letter does not include any commitment to agriculture, which uses about 80% of the water allocated to the seven states that depend on the river – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the river’s two largest reservoirs, are each about a quarter full.

In June, US Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton warned states that they needed to drastically reduce their use, but amid arguments over who should bear what burden, officials failed to do so. to answer his phone. The bureau has already offered various incentives for water districts to reduce their use, with things like leaving fields fallow or asking city residents to use less at home. Proposals for some of that money are due Nov. 21.

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The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water for about half of California’s population, in October urged cities and water agencies in its region to ban the addition of new artificial grass in commercial parks. , in public spaces and neighborhoods. Its board has also recommended branches to stop watering and consider removing such overgrown grass.

Southern Nevada has for decades used a combination of cash incentives and penalties to curb irrigation and reduce both active and inactive conditions. The deal has limited impact on the area because a state law passed last year requires 100% of the idle timber to be cut down in the Las Vegas area by 2026.

Utah passed a statewide conservation program last year that included $5 million to encourage turf removal and target grass that adorns public property. However, some municipalities maintain laws passed for ethical reasons that prevent residents from removing grass from the area by placing a drought tolerant area.


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