Aurora bans certain turfs and ‘decorative’ grasses in new landscaping

Aurora is banning the use of certain grasses in new developments in an effort to conserve water as the city’s population booms. This includes cool weather turf, which requires much more water to survive.

Aurora has been trying to encourage indoor efficiency for years. Over the last two decades, personal water use in Aurora has gone down 36%.

Greg Baker, with Aurora Water, says the city is trying to reduce water usage by another 50%.

“I think most Coloradans understand where the water comes from the mountains and we have to bring it a long way into the city,” said Baker. “There’s a real environmental value attached to our water and I think Coloradans get it.”

About 50% of Aurora’s water supply comes from the South Platte River, 25% from the Colorado River, and 25% from the Arkansas River.

As Aurora continues to grow, the city residents need to use their water wisely. Right now, half of the city’s water use is for lawn irrigation. The city is shifting to landscaping that requires less maintenance.

“Aurora is growing and we had to address the water needs in the future. The best way to do that is to conserve water that’s been used for aesthetic purposes so we can meet the indoor needs,” said Baker.

The City of Aurora recently banned the use of certain grasses and turf in new developments.

“Grass has its place. You need it in a sports field. You need it in a park where kids play and where dogs walk. But do you need it in your front yard, where all you do is your water, fertilize, cut, repeat?” Said Baker. “It’s the non-functional side of turf that’s not essential.”

The city will allow turf only in areas with programmed recreation, like sports fields in parks. However, turf would be prohibited in new golf courses.

Current homeowners don’t need to make changes to their lawns, but the city will assist them if they do.

“We have a rebate program and we’ll help you design your landscape and we’ll help you pay for it as well,” said Baker. “We will also come out and look at your irrigation system and make suggestions on how to improve it and will help pay for those improvements.”

Last year, the city says more people took advantage of water-wise rebates and free assessments than ever before.

“When it comes to water conservation, it is an individual effort. One person may not make a big impact but when you have almost 400,000 people, that multiplies very quickly. That’s how we can save water. That’s how we can make a substantial difference in water conservation,” said Baker.

The proposal to mandate conservation measures on all new developments, both residential and commercial, will have a final vote on Sept. 12.

It’ll be about 3 years before the city knows what kind of impact this will have. As for right now, the recommended watering schedule in September is no more than two days per week. Watering between 10 am and 6 pm is not allowed.

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