Vegas Drought
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To Save Water, Nevada Bans “Nonfunctional Turf” — Here’s What That Means

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author
By

Nov. 16 2022, Published 2:00 p.m. ET

If you've ever driven through the suburbs or even certain cities, you've likely noticed random patches of grass outside the grocery store, in your town square, or even filling in the small, narrow alleys between apartment buildings. That grass didn't grow there naturally, and it isn't maintaining itself — it requires water to stay alive.

But because the southwest has been suffering from an ongoing drought, the state of Nevada has finally banned what they call nonfunctional turf.

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“Remember, we’re in the Mojave Desert. We get 4 inches of rain here per year. Grass is not naturally growing in the Las Vegas Valley. Does it have a use in our community for recreation? Absolutely," Democratic Nevada Assemblyman Howard Watts, who represents the Las Vegas area, stated via The Salt Lake Tribune. "Outside of that, is that the best use for our water when we have the ability to have water come out when we turn on the faucet?”

“We’ve had incentive programs where people can voluntarily replace their grass with more water-friendly landscaping for years," Watts continued. "This actually went and requires that properties retrofit and replace that grass. It’s mandatory."

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Nonfunctional Turf
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Nevada has banned "nonfunctional turf" to save water.

To save money on utilities and conserve water, many across the U.S.' southwest have exchanged their grassy lawns for artificial turf. Southern Nevada has even gone as far as banning all "nonfunctional turf" by 2026. This includes grass in public areas such as medians, along streets, in parking lots and traffic circles, and in front of storefronts, according to FOX13.

Nonfunctional turf is basically defined as public grass that's used for aesthetics — not recreational purposes.

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“We’ve taken out a lot of grass. But we estimate when we implemented the nonfunctional turf ban, there were 3,900 acres of sod in the valley,” John Entsminger, the general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority stated per FOX13.

And while this has only been implemented in southern Nevada thus far, Utah may not be far behind. Political leaders in the state have been tempted to implement more restrictions, but instead, encouraged voluntary water usage reductions.

But actual limitations felt mandatory, in the name of water conservation.

“Drastic times call for drastic measures. I think it’s time that every state along the river look at these big, bold policies,” Watts told FOX13. “Las Vegas is showing it can be done, it can be successful and it can be done with community support.”

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Traffic Circle
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Instead, opt for landscaping tactics that save water.

There are so many other ways to make your yard look manicured, without opting for grass that requires constant watering.

In fact, we have a complete guide to gardening without water — yes, it's possible, and it isn't particularly hard either. There are so many drought-resistant plants that will likely thrive in your area, especially if it's dry. Just do your research ahead of time.

Additionally, we have an entire list of landscaping ideas that promote water conservation. From adding natural ponds to your yard, to re-wilding your grass with native flowers, we're certain you'll find some ideas that won't do a number on your water bill, or your local ecosystem.

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