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California moves to ban watering of “non-functional” turf

April 5, 2022 -  By

An executive order signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom on March 28 ordered the State Water Resources Control Board to evaluate the adoption of regulations banning irrigation of “non-functional” turf or grass. The executive order follows the driest three-month stretch in the state’s recorded history.

Changes apply to turf or grass, such as decorative grass adjacent to large commercial or industrial buildings. Turf and grass not included in the restrictions include residential lawns, recreational fields or parks.

According to the California Department of Water Resources, the ban — if adopted — could potentially save several hundred thousand acre-feet of water, with one acre-foot serving the needs of roughly three households per year.

Newsom said the order also directs state officials to expand site inspections, emphasizing seeking out illegal water diversions. Measures will also focus on ensuring drinking water supply for vulnerable communities, safeguarding groundwater caches, and protecting fish and wildlife.

“While we have made historic investments to protect our communities, economy and ecosystems from the worsening drought across the West, it is clear we need to do more,” said Newsom. “I am calling on local water agencies to implement more aggressive water conservation measures, including having the Water Board evaluate a ban on watering ornamental grass on commercial properties, which will drive water use savings at this critical time. Amid climate-driven extremes in weather, we must all continue to do our part and make water conservation a way of life.”

The California Department of Water Resources advises residents to outfit their lawns with water-wise plants native to the state whenever possible. Other recommendations include installing a smart controller and drip irrigation, adjusting sprinkler heads, fixing leaks and setting mower blades to three inches to promote deeper root growth.

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