Grass is now outlawed. If you’ve traveled in the Southwest, then you know that landscaping there runs to sand, gravel and cactus. Yet there are houses where the owner seems to have a nostalgia for the Northeast and bravely—or foolishly—tries to maintain a lawn. Out of place in every way, these lawns have now become outlawed.
A new a state law passed last year, the first of its kind in the country, has targeted patches of grass like lawns and stray bits scattered all around town, and scheduled them for removal. Kept on life support by sprinklers, they are stealing a precious resource, water, at a time when it has become alarmingly scarce and therefore, precious. These strips or patches of grass, along streets and at some of housing developments and commercial sites in the Las Vegas area, must be removed in favor of more desert-like choices. This may seem drastic, however, for years the warnings to cut water consumption have been ineffective and now stronger measures must be taken.
The strips of grass have been declared “nonfunctional,” serving only an aesthetic purpose. Southern Nevada is home to nearly 2.5 million people and visited by more than 40 million tourists a year, and the entire region depends on Lake Mead, the nearby reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Colorado, for 90% of its drinking water. However, the lake has been shrinking since 2000, and is now so low the original water intake was exposed last week.
The goal is to cut water consumption by another 30% by 2035. But with climate warming accelerating, this may only be an optimistic wish never to be fulfilled.