Las Vegas declares a turf war on lawns as drought worsens

Las Vegas declares a turf war on lawns as drought worsens
By Phil Lavelle
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) — Las Vegas is ripping up millions of square feet
of grass — including greenery along the iconic strip — as the city
struggles with a decades-long drought made worse by climate change.
Lawmakers last year outlawed turf that is only decorative, and
property owners across the city are replacing grass with a mix of
artificial turf and desert-friendly plants.
The law does not apply to golf courses or private houses, but new
homes are not allowed to use real grass.
“The reality is that grass uses the equivalent of 73 gallons of water
a year per square foot. That’s enough water to put where we are
completely underwater by 10 feet,” said Bronson Mack from the Southern
Nevada Water Authority, which is responsible for water management in
Las Vegas.
A decade-long drought has also prompted Chile’s capital Santiago to
abandon lush lawns in favor of desert flora.
Nevada gets much of its water from nearby Lake Mead, which also
supplies California, Arizona and Mexico. But levels have dropped to an
all-time low due to a sustained drought exacerbated by climate change.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority sends patrols out each day to film
videos of homes wasting water. Homeowners receive a warning or fines
if they are repeat offenders.
“Over the next three years here in Las Vegas, they’re going to convert
about 180 million square feet of natural grass to azurescape. And much
of that is going to be artificial turf,” said George Neagle from
SynLawn, one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of artificial
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