ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A push to ban grass in New Mexico to save water failed to gain footing in the Roundhouse Tuesday. A group of Democrats wanted to do away with non-residential lawns that are purely decorative.
The bill would have banned the installation of decorative turf by 2025, and then eventually ban using potable water for it. The law wouldn’t have applied to homes.
“While there are appropriate and important places for irrigated turf like our parks, sports fields, playgrounds, and even our yards, much-irrigated turf has little or any purpose. Functional purpose…Transforming our landscapes from nonfunctional turf grass to drought resilient, climate resilient landscapes reduces our outdoor water demand and ensures our water resources are used efficiently,” one expert said.
Backers of House Bill 352 pointed at recent drought and climate change as the reasoning behind the push. It would have meant the end of lawns around businesses or on grassy medians and along sidewalks – essentially anywhere people don’t play. Any community on the public water system would have been affected by this bill.
“You’re putting the burden on local communities that they have to police areas of their particular district so that they are in compliance with this,” said Representative Candy Spence Ezzell (R-Roswell).
In the end, a House Agriculture Committee split a ‘Do Not Pass’ vote 4-4 on it, effectively killing the bill.
There are places around the state that offer rebates for people who tear out their grass and put in xeriscape. The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Authority says its customers have removed almost half a square mile of grass over the past 25 years as part of its rebate program.