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Nevada Bans 'Non-Functional' Grass in Water Conservation Effort

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Nevada Bans 'Non-Functional' Grass in Water Conservation Effort
Lake Mead marina south of Las Vegas, Nevada, on Aug. 23, 2020. DANIEL SLIM / AFP via Getty Images

A new Nevada law will outlaw "non-functional" grass because of the region's drought problem, in an effort to conserve water. The nonfunctional grass makes up 31 percent of all grass in the Las Vegas area.


Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak pointed out the "bathtub ring" passengers flying into Vegas see around Lake Mead as proof of the need for statewide water conservation.

"It's incumbent upon us for the next generation to be more conscious of conservation and our natural resources — water being particularly important," Sisolak said, according to PBS.

The grass being targeted includes grass not routinely used in office parks, street medians, and entrances to housing developments. The ban excludes grass at single-family homes, parks and golf courses.

The ban will prompt the replacement of around 6 square miles of grass in the Las Vegas area; it's estimated to conserve around 10 percent of the available water supply that comes from the Colorado River. It could save up to 11 gallons of water per person, per day in a region where the population is around 2.3 million, according to The Associated Press.

"Replacing non-functional turf from Southern Nevada will allow for more sustainable and efficient use of resources, build resiliency to climate change, and help ensure the community's current and future water needs continue to be met," the general manager of Southern Nevada Water Authority, John Entsminger, said to The Associated Press.

The bill, sponsored by Nevada Assemblyman Howard Watts III, has bipartisan support. Watts said he hopes to see other states take similar action leading up to 2026, when states will renegotiate the Colorado River's Drought Contingency Plan.

"There's broad acceptance in southern Nevada that if we can take some grass out to preserve the water supply for our communities, then that's something that we need to do," Watts said to The Associated Press. "This sends a clear message about what other states need to be looking at in order to preserve water."

Contrary to other cities and states in the U.S. that have enacted temporary bans on lawn watering, Nevada will be the first state to permanently ban non-functional grass.

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