30 water agencies commit to reducing turf due to drought

Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse Sustainable Landscape Retrofit (Before on Left – After on Right) | Albuquerque USA | Rios – Image Credit: Courtesy of Rios

30 Water agencies in the Colorado River Basin (Western USA) have signed an MOU (pdf) committing to reducing water consumption through enacting several programs, including requiring communities to reduce(remove) non-functional turf (streetscapes, front yards, side yards, HOA managed areas), increase water efficiency through reuse and recycling, better-managing evaporation and increasing efficiency of indoor fixtures and various other water saving initiatives.

Water Agencies and cities are running programs to pay homeowners and businesses ($1.5-$3/sq ft) to replace turf with drought and climate-resilient landscaping while maintaining urban landscapes and tree canopies to benefit communities and the environment.

The MOU seeks for the water authorities to undertake the following:

“Collaborate with other water users in the Colorado River basin to bring the supply and use of the river into balance. A robust agricultural economy, healthy watersheds, opportunities to recreate, and vibrant communities are all vital to our western way of life. No one sector, nor one state, can achieve sufficient use reductions independently. For the sake of current and future generations, we all must work together to achieve a balance of supply and use and thereby preserve a functioning and healthy river system.”

Memorandum of Understanding by and among Colorado River Basin Municipal and Public Water Providers

This could be seen as a turning point where geopolitical boundaries are starting to become less of a barrier as communities face increased pressure on resources due to climate change and extreme climatic events such as droughts and floods that have long-term impacts on the environment and its residents.

The MOU also invites other parties to join (without amendment), which is also refreshing to see government agencies seeking to join with others in addressing climate change.


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Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/damianholmes/