Bill would help Coloradans replace grass to save water

If passed, House Bill 1151 would create a state program to help finance the voluntary replacement of grass lawns.

DENVER — Drought and water security are huge concerns in Colorado, and it’s only expected to get worse. 

There’s a bipartisan bill moving through Colorado right now that could help conserve water by helping property owners replace their grass lawns with low-water use landscaping.

“Our turf, our lawns are very thirsty. They use a lot of water,” said Lindsay Rogers, water policy analyst at Western Resource Advocates. “Colorado’s a pretty dry state and it’s really only getting drier in the face of climate change.”

Imagine getting rid of your lawn mower because you didn’t have to cut the grass anymore.

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“Xeriscaping, water-wise landscaping, it’s really a beautiful, pollinator friendly, native plants that thrive in Colorado with a lot less water and it’s really the direction we need to be heading into the future,” said Rogers.

She said this legislation would create a new program to help Coloradans replace their high-water use turf with low-water use landscaping.

“The cost really varies widely. For folks that want to do a DIY project, they might be able to get away with paying around $2-4 per square foot,” said Rogers. “For residents that want to bring in a professional to redo their landscaping it’s probably going to be closer to $10 per square foot, in that ballpark.”

If passed, the Colorado Water Conservation Board would “develop a statewide program to provide financial incentives for the voluntary replacement of irrigated turf with water-wise landscaping (turf replacement program),” as stated in the legislation’s summary.

“You can increase pollinator habitat. You can reduce the amount of gas you use to maintain your landscape. Of course, you’re reducing your water and your water bills,” said Rogers. “We’ve estimated that over an acre you can save about 1-2 acre feet of water.”

She says about 25% of Coloradans live in a community where there is a turf replacement incentive program. 

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This bill aims to cover the entire state starting out with $2 million from the general fund with the hopes of expanding in the future, if it becomes law.

“These costs can add up and we’re really trying to remove some of that financial burden from the property owner and the homeowner because ultimately improving water security in Colorado is all of our problem,” said Rogers.

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