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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

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To Save Water Amid a Megadrought, Las Vegas Outlaws Grass

The new law, which passed with bipartisan support, is meant to help ensure that what water there is goes further. It’s an example of the kind of strict measures that other regions may increasingly be forced to take to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

It also illustrates the choices, some hard, some mundane, that have to be made to carry those measures out. Here, an advisory committee of community members, with help from the authority, decided what was functional turf (including athletic fields, cemeteries and some parcels in housing developments based on size) and what would have to go (most everything else). The law set a deadline of 2027 for the work to be completed.

Kurtis Hyde, maintenance manager at the company where Mr. Gonzalez works, Par 3 Landscape and Maintenance, said at some homeowners association meetings he’s attended residents have been quite vocal about the prospect of losing turf. “People get emotional about grass,” he said.

The ban follows years of extensive efforts to cut water use, including a voluntary “cash for grass” program, begun in 1999, for individual homeowners to lose their lawns, limits on watering, and the establishment of a team of water waste investigators. But with no end in sight for the drought, and with the region’s continued growth, measures like these haven’t been enough, said John J. Entsminger, the authority’s general manager.

“Our community has been a world leader in urban water conservation for the last 20 years,” Mr. Entsminger said. “We have to do even better over the next 20.”

The move to replace thirsty, sprinkler-fed grass with drought-tolerant, drip-irrigated plants can reduce water use by up to 70 percent, the water authority says. The savings are even greater if the grass is replaced by artificial turf, which is favored by some.

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