Last week, Democratic lawmakers in California made a decision to prohibit the use of drinkable water for the irrigation of ornamental lawns. This move was aimed at curbing water consumption and supporting the state’s efforts to address the impacts of climate change. Adán Ortega Jr., who chairs the Metropolitan Water District, emphasized that inefficient outdoor watering poses a significant obstacle to our capacity to respond to climate change.
AB 1572, a legislative proposal, received approval from the Senate with a vote of 28-10 last week and has now been sent to Governor Newsom for his signature. This ban, set to be enforced in 2027, will be gradually implemented over a four-year period.
The bill contains provisions that allow for certain exemptions, including grass in sports fields, parks, cemeteries, spaces designated for recreational activities, and other communal areas. Additionally, areas where grass is watered using recycled water are not subject to this restriction.
In Southern California’s urban areas, approximately 50% of overall water consumption is attributed to outdoor irrigation, with a significant portion of this water being distributed through sprinkler systems to maintain the lush appearance of lawns.
In a recent decision by state lawmakers, California will soon prohibit the use of potable water for maintaining certain extensive stretches of grass – specifically, the ornamental green areas that serve purely decorative purposes, requiring mowing but remaining untouched and unused for recreational activities.
In the six-county region served by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, there are approximately 218,000 acres of grass cover. A substantial portion of this, roughly 51,000 acres, falls under the category of “nonfunctional” turf. This refers to the kind of grass that occupies spaces along roads, sidewalks, in front of commercial establishments, and around parking lots.
This unused grass area encompasses an expanse roughly equivalent to 12 times the size of Griffith Park. By removing this grass and replacing it with landscaping suitable for Southern California’s dry climate, the district estimates that the entire region could reduce its overall water consumption by nearly 10%. It’s worth noting that while the legislation prohibits purely ornamental grass in most communal areas managed by homeowners’ associations, it does not impact residential lawns.
The legislation initially encompassed grass areas outside apartment complexes, but this provision was later excluded from the bill. This decision came about due to concerns raised by certain city officials and water agency managers regarding the challenges of enforcing these restrictions and the potential financial burdens it could place on low-income communities.
California’s governance under one-party Democrat leadership has been a subject of contention. Critics argue that instead of addressing issues like homelessness, border security, and the prevention of rolling blackouts to improve the lives of Californians, state Democrats are burdening residents with climate-related mandates.
Additionally, California has taken legal action against major oil companies, accusing them of misleading the public about the contribution of fossil fuels to climate change.