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February 29, 2024

House Passes Landscaping Water Conservation Bill

DENVER, CO –  The House today passed legislation to efficiently conserve water by prohibiting nonfunctional turf or invasive plant species on certain property areas. SB24-005 passed by a vote of 48 to 14.

“Water-wise landscaping can help us conserve our precious water resources and embrace the natural landscapes of Colorado,” said Rep. Karen McCormick. “This  legislation would cut back on unnecessary water usage on nonfunctional turf used in medians, greenways and parking lots. Increased climate threats and extreme droughts means we need to effectively manage and preserve the water we all rely on.” 

“Cutting back on the amount of water we use on nonfunctional turf in commercial areas can help us conserve our water resources across the state,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan. “This bill encourages water-wise landscaping and helps our communities embrace the native plants and species that thrive in Colorado. Coloradans are counting on us to effectively and efficiently manage our water resources, and this bill is a step forward in protecting this vital resource.” 

SB24-005 would promote water-wise landscaping by prohibiting the installation of nonfunctional turf, invasive plant species, and artificial turf in any newly developed commercial, institutional, industrial, common interest, and state property. This bill would also apply to other little-used areas like parking lots, medians, and transportation corridors. 

Outdoor watering of landscaping uses about half of all municipal water. Much of this is used to grow nonfunctional turf, which requires large amounts of water to thrive. While some turf is used for parks, sports fields, and yards, much of it serves no community purpose, such as highway frontages and strips alongside industrial properties. The state has supported turf replacement as a key tool for water conservation, and now this bill focuses on limiting its installation in the first place. 

By transitioning away from nonfunctional turf, the bill encourages developers, city planners, and managers to choose plants that thrive in Colorado’s semi-arid climate. 

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