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Taming the Turf

Reclamation's Lower Colorado Regional Office Area and the Southern Nevada Water Authority have just passed the halfway point of a four year, one million dollar cooperative program for water efficient landscaping.

Data gathered by the program will demonstrate explicitly the benefits of improving turf irrigation systems, and replacing turf with the drought tolerant plants of arid "xeriscapes."

LAS VEGAS EFFORT USEFUL FOR RESEARCH

The Las Vegas based study will quantify water savings, costs, user acceptability, and effective incentives. The results will contribute to USBR xeriscape research throughout the western United States.

Consistent methods and data categories will allow researchers to develop generalized models which can serve as useful planning tools for western communities.

POTENTIAL FOR TREMENDOUS SAVINGS

About 70 percent of southern Nevada's water supply flows into lawns, pools, and decorative fountains. In the effort to maintain the appearance of an oasis in the desert, the population of the region consumes about three times the amount of water actually needed to live there.

Of course, many residents would argue that outdoor greenery is a necessity, not a luxury. The turf conversion program proposes to demonstrate that water conservation can be compatible with an attractive yard.

PRELIMINARY FINDINGS:

  • Improvements in sprinkler system design, irrigation timing, and landscape layout could cut outdoor residential water use in half.
  • Conversion to desert tolerant xeriscapes would reduce consumption still further.