Colorado is planning a program to further incentivize residents to replace their grass lawns with landscaping that needs less water to maintain.
Signed into law on Wednesday, House Bill 1151 requires the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop a statewide financial incentive program to inspire voluntary turf replacement for homeowners, local governments and nonprofits.
“Water is the most precious resource we have,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, who sponsored the bill. “This new bipartisan law is a win-win: it will save Coloradans money on their water bills and reduce water use in the metro areas, all while promoting the innovative landscaping industry.”
Along Colorado’s Front Range, outdoor water use accounts for nearly 55% of the residential water use, the majority used on lawns, Colorado State University estimates. In Denver alone, residents use up to 120 million gallons per day to water lawns, according to 2019 reports.
The Colorado River Basin — which provides water to Colorado and six other states — has experienced the driest 22 years on record.
The new law will allocate $2 million to finance the “Turf Replacement Fund,” which could include expanding statewide existing city programs that pay between $1 and $3 per square foot of grass that is removed.
The specific incentive program must be developed before July 1, 2023.
Under the bill, “water-wise” landscaping includes replacement turf and drought-tolerant plants that require less water to grow. Roberts said the bill is especially targeting non-native grasses used for private and commercial lawns, school fields and other ornamental outdoor spaces, such as road medians.
Lawmakers passed the bipartisan-sponsored bill with broad support, receiving 30-5 approval from the Senate and 55-10 approval from the House.