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February 26, 2024

Landscaping Water Conservation Bill Clears House Committee

DENVER, CO –  The House Agriculture, Water & Natural Resources Committee 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 10 to 2. 

“Coloradans are counting on us to protect and conserve our freshwater resources,” said Rep. Karen McCormick. “This bill would cut back on unnecessary water usage on nonfunctional turf used in medians, greenways and parking lots. We’re taking steps to effectively manage our water resources and this bill sets Colorado on a path forward to conserving more water and embracing the natural landscape of our beautiful state.” 

“Taking steps now to preserve our precious water resources is a smart move,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan. “This bill would encourage water-wise landscaping and help us embrace the native plants and species that thrive in Colorado. Effective water management is important and if we can cut back on the amount of water we use to maintain nonfunctional turf near parking lots and medians we can better conserve 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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