Groundbreaking law forces businesses to replace decorative turf

Nevada is the first state in the nation to ban grass in existing non-single-family properties thanks to a new law that prohibits the use of Colorado River water to irrigate decorative grass by the end of 2026. The turf removal law targets non-functional grass in streetscapes, medians, parking lots and other areas not used for recreation in southern Nevada.

Once fully enacted, the new law will help save billions of gallons of Southern Nevada’s water supply by requiring the removal or replacement of non-recreational grass in commercial properties, Homeowners Associations (HOAs) and multi-family developments. It does not apply to single-family residences.

A groundbreaking Nevada law prohibits the use of Colorado River water to irrigate decorative grass like in this streetscape by the end of 2026 in southern Nevada. The law targets decorative grass, which must be removed or replaced with drip-irrigated plants and trees.

“Residents of Southern Nevada have done a fantastic job answering our call for conservation and removing grass from their gardens,” said JC Davis, corporate conservation manager at the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). ). Davis added that while homeowners removed nearly 70% of their non-functional turf, owners of non-single-family properties removed less than a third of their water-thirsty decorative turf.

“The business community still has millions of square feet of decorative grass on their properties,” Davis said, noting that southern Nevada’s water supply has been cut by 7 billion gallons this year due to a federally declared shortage on the Colorado River, the source of 90 percent of the community’s water supply. “As we manage these conditions of scarcity, which are expected to continue for the foreseeable future, we must reduce our outdoor water consumption to protect our water supply.”

The law applies to purely ornamental grass that serves no recreational function and prohibits SNWA and its member agencies from supplying Colorado River water to non-single-family properties to irrigate such grass beginning Jan. 1. 2027.

Areas targeted by the Sod Removal Act are located at HOA entrances; apartments, condominiums and commercial complexes; streetscapes and medians.

Davis acknowledged that the public perception is that Las Vegas resorts use the most water in Southern Nevada, but they actually use less than 5% of the community’s water supply, while employing approximately 21% of Nevada’s workforce and contributing greatly to the state’s economy.

“Most resort water is used indoors, and we capture, treat and reuse almost all of our indoor water in southern Nevada,” Davis said, adding that recycling almost every drop of water used at the interior helps stretch the community’s limited water supply. “The biggest water consumer at resorts is their cooling systems, and we’re working with the industry to move toward more water-efficient systems.”

A drip-irrigated landscape uses 75% less water than grass covering the same area. Hydro-smart landscapes also bring color, texture, and shade to a landscape.

SNWA is also working with businesses in Southern Nevada to help them move from water-thirsty grass to water-smart landscapes. The SNWA Water Smart Landscapes rebate provides a cash incentive of up to $3 per square foot of grass replaced with drip irrigated trees and plants. (Some restrictions apply.)

“Desert-adapted plants and trees bring color, texture and shade to the landscape, which is important in combating the impacts of urban heat islands. These landscapes also use much less water than grass,” Davis said, explaining that a drip-irrigated landscape uses about 75 percent less water than turf. “Every time you replace a square foot of grass with a square foot of drip irrigated plants and trees, you are buying this community a 55 gallon barrel of water.”

Davis suggested business owners and property managers in Southern Nevada contact SNWA to determine how their businesses might be affected by the new law and to discuss other water-saving incentives.

“Our staff can meet with you and help you plan ahead. There are a lot of landowners asking for these incentive dollars, so we urge everyone to start the process sooner rather than later,” Davis said. He noted that WSL claims for HOAs and commercial properties have increased significantly, which could drive up costs for planting materials and landscape installation services as the deadline to comply with the new law approaches. law.

Find out how you can take advantage of SNWA’s landscape discount and other cash incentives by contacting one of SNWA’s business experts at 702-862-3740 or email cashincentives@snwa.com. Learn more about snwa.com.