‘Nonfunctional’ grass to be banned in #LasVegas Valley — The Las Vegas Review-Journal #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

An elaborate fountain in Las Vegas. One of the biggest water meetings of the year takes place every December in Las Vegas, which has driven down water use down by paying people to remove thirsty turf and grass. Photo credit: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From The Las Vegas Review-Journal (Colton Lochhead):

Nearly one-third of all of the grass in Southern Nevada will need to be removed by the end of 2026 under a new bill signed into law by Gov. Steve Sisolak Friday, a significant conservation effort that comes as the state is facing its first federal water shortage amid declining Lake Mead levels and a two-decades-long drought that has shown no signs of ending.

“I think that it’s incumbent upon us for the next generation to be more conscious of our conservation of our natural resources, water being particularly important,” Sisolak told reporters last week when asked about the bill before he had signed it.

Specifically, Assembly Bill 356 will prohibit Colorado River water distributed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority from being used to irrigate “nonfunctional turf” starting Jan. 1, 2027. The water authority has said that this will include the grass between roads and sidewalks, in medians and traffic circles and decorative grass outside businesses, housing developments and similar areas. Single-family homes, golf courses are parks are excluded from the ban.

According to the water authority’s estimate, the new law will lead to the eventual removal of 3,900 to 4,000 acres of nonfunctional grass, or about 6 square miles worth of thirsty turf.

That’s about 30 percent of the 13,000 acres of grass currently in the Las Vegas Valley.

West Drought Monitor map June 1, 2021.

For the nation’s driest state, water conservation efforts will take on even greater importance going forward as the Southwest U.S. drought has intensified and is only expected to worsen.

The latest study from the Bureau of Reclamation in May predicts that the water level of Lake Mead, which supplies about 90 percent of the water for Southern Nevada, will drop low enough this year to trigger its first federally declared water shortage. A formal declaration on the shortage could come in August if those predictions hold true.

That shortage would reduce Southern Nevada’s allocation of 300,000 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River by 13,000 acre-feet.

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