In the U.S. Southwest, lawns are under attack

Long-term drought coupled with a population explosion is squeezing the water supply in cities throughout the U.S. Southwest. Here's what city officials are doing about it.

Long-term drought coupled with a population explosion is squeezing the water supply in cities throughout the U.S. Southwest. City officials are fighting back by going after a long-time symbol of the American suburbs: expansive tracts of grass.

Many cities in the U.S. Southwest have had policies that restrict day-time watering in place for years. Now, city officials are getting more aggressive with their water-saving tactics, reported the NYT.

Some cities are taking the softer approach and paying homeowners to rip out their lawns and replace it with a water-sipping landscape. For example, Los Angeles has paid $1.4 million to homeowners since 2009 to remove their lawns. Mesa, Arizona has paid to replace 250,000 square feet of residential lawn with desert plants.

Others are stepping up penalties for folks who water their lawns during peak hours or outright banning lush carpets of grass in new developments.

Las Vegas has put in place one of the most aggressive water-saving policies in the country. After a drought wiped out the city's water resources, the Las Vegas Valley Water District established one of the first lawn rebate plans.

Since then, the water district has paid out nearly $200 million to remove 165.6 million square feet of grass from residences and businesses, according to the NYT report. The Southern Nevada Water Authority, a co-operative that includes the LVVWD, provides rebates of up to $1.50 per square foot of grass converted to xeriscape.

Las Vegas also has banned grass turf in any new developments.

There are other commercial efforts underway to develop a water-sipping grass for those who don't want to give up their patch of lawn. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company has a research partnership with Rutgers University, which is developing grass types and studying drought tolerance.

Rutgers’ East Coast research capabilities in drought-tolerant grass augments our own research facilities in the Midwest and Southeast - See more at: http://www.grogood.com/corporateresponsibilityreport/Partnerships/ResearchPartnerships#sthash.dDSz6KqK.dpuf

Rutgers’ East Coast research capabilities in drought-tolerant grass augments our own research facilities in the Midwest and Southeast. - See more at: http://www.grogood.com/corporateresponsibilityreport/Partnerships/ResearchPartnerships#sthash.dDSz6KqK.dpuf

Rutgers’ East Coast research capabilities in drought-tolerant grass augments our own research facilities in the Midwest and Southeast. - See more at: http://www.grogood.com/corporateresponsibilityreport/Partnerships/ResearchPartnerships#sthash.dDSz6KqK.dpuf

Photo: Flickr user kretyen

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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