Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Brown is the New Green


Last updated 11/9/2023 at 12:08pm

Nearly all of California is officially out of the Drought, but one emergency rule that targets bright green lawns is on its way to becoming permanent.

A ban on the use of potable water on nonfunctional turf is one floor vote and a governor’s signature away from becoming reality. Wait, before you run to your sprinkler: Your yard and sport fields aren’t included. The state would ban ornamental grass only on commercial, industrial or institutional properties. Think of those decorative strips of grass at malls or office parks or in common areas controlled by homeowner associations.

The state water board already restricts watering in these areas as part of the Drought emergency. That rule, however, is set to expire in June. Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale)’s AB 1572 would phase in permanent requirements starting in 2027.

Homeowner associations and landscape contractors oppose the bill. But its progress through the Legislature on a mostly party-line vote is a sign the debate about lawns has turned a corner as California faces the reality of long-term water shortage. One of the bill’s sponsors is the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies water to 19 million people. The district has been recommending that cities and water agencies ban nonfunctional turf since last year to conserve water.

“This legislation takes our efforts one step further – to ensure that we are making the best use of our precious resources,” Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said in a statement.

Water districts aren’t all on board with a related measure. The Association of California Water Agencies and California Municipal Utilities Association oppose Friedman’s Assembly Bill 1573, which is intended to restrict the use of nonnative plants in landscaping projects.

The groups say it doesn’t like the use of thresholds for specific plants.

Both bills are waiting for a Senate floor vote.