By Deb Lebow Aal
Would you give up your thirsty Kentucky Blue grass for money?
House Bill HB22-1151 was introduced with bi-partisan sponsorship in the Colorado House on February 4, 2022, and has a good chance of going the distance. Last week the Committee of Agriculture, Livestock, and Water voted 11-0 to move the bill on to the Committee on Appropriations. The bill, known as the Turf Replacement Program bill, would require the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop a program to provide financial incentives for the replacement of irrigated turf with “water-wise landscaping.”
The bill defines water-wise landscaping as, “water- and plant-management practice that emphasizes using plants with lower water needs,” and while we want the program to specify the use of “ecologically-beneficial native plants,” we think this is a true step in the right direction. As I’ve written about before, about 55% of Coloradan’s residential water bills come from outdoor landscaping, and much of that is to water non-native Kentucky blue grass or other water-thirsty turf. Getting paid $1 or $2 a square foot for taking out that turf is a nice incentive! Currently, several cities in Colorado offer $1 a square foot. Those areas will see an increase to $2. For much more information on this bill see the Colorado Sun article.
This is an important development in our drought-stricken times. Places like Las Vegas have more generous turf replacement programs, but we are encouraged by the introduction of a state-wide bill for Colorado. You can track the bill’s progress at https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb22-1151. We will update you as it moves through the legislative system.