Las Vegas Boldly Expands Grass Ban

by | Jan 4, 2022 | Billie's Blog

Wildfire photo by Chris Hauska

By Billie K. Fidlin, Director of Outreach & Justice

As we know, Southern Nevada and Arizona continue to be affected by the ongoing drought, which has been in process for over 20 years. January of 2022 found us all facing new federal restrictions on our water allocation, based upon the federal declaration of the first-ever Colorado River shortage, so water cuts are now imposed.

Prior to the current situation, the longest drought had lasted 512 weeks from 2009 – 2019. The west finds itself in dire straits again, as our wildfire seasons and other climate-related issues become all too frequent and dangerous. Our sister conference in the Denver area knows this only too well. Nearly 1,000 homes and businesses were lost on Thursday, December 30th. On a personal note, the fire came within three miles of my son’s home before the wind changed direction. This photo shows his neighborhood and the fire. We here in Arizona face yearly fires and related devastation.

Leviticus 25:23 shares that “…the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” Other translations replace the word “strangers” with “tenants”. We, as tenants, are stewards of the earth. We clearly have the mandate to not only care but to act. Jesus said, “They will neither harm or destroy on all my holy mountain…” We have much work to do. And of course in Genesis, we are told we have dominion over the earth. (Gen. 1:26-28)

As responsible people of faith, caring for the Creation that God so freely gave us, we must contemplate the best actions that will benefit our future. The city of Las Vegas has done just that, complimenting measures they put into place some time ago.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority passed resolutions in late December containing a variety of measures to help conserve water. Grassy yards to be banned at all new housing and commercial properties in the Vegas metro area. Evaporative cooling/swamp coolers to be banned at new developments – they use more water than traditional methods such as air conditioners. These expansions to current policy must be approved by local governments to go into effect.

Other examples of previous conservation measures ban on front yard grass, prohibit grass from being planted in more than half of a home’s back yard, and a ban on “non-functional” grass in office parks, street medians and HOA controlled community entrances (“decorative grass”). Watering restrictions are already in effect: November 1st begins landscape watering only being allowed one day a week, through February 28th, i.e. a winter watering schedule. Prior to this declaration, watering was allowed 3 days a week. Under the winter schedule, Vegas area residents are assigned one day based upon their address.

What can all of us do regardless of where we live:

  • Following your mandatory watering schedule if you have one in your city, either changing your own irrigation clock each season to comply or making sure your landscaper does so.
  • Replace purely decorative grass with desert-friendly landscaping
  • Fixing sprinklers or anything else that’s causing water to flow or spray off your property.
  • Make sure water isn’t leaking inside your home or in your yard.
  • Take advantage of financial incentives to update your old watering clock, purchase a smart water leak detector, or remove grass.
  • Report water waste around town when you spot it happening.

Southern Nevada is doing a good job. Since 2002/2003, they have used about 23 billion gallons less with the addition of 800,000 new residents. They are an example for the times we find ourselves in, and for the future to come.

To learn more there is an excellent website of benefit to our entire Conference geographic area:  https://www.lvvwd.com/conservation/measures/index.html

Colorado December Fires: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/life-threatening-colorado-wildfires-trigger-evacuations-boulder-area-rcna10475

Photo Credit: Chris Hauska

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Author: Billie K. Fidlin

Billie K. Fidlin is the Director of Outreach & Justice for the Desert Southwest Conference. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University and attended Claremont School of Theology for religious studies. Ms. Fidlin currently serves as the President of the Arizona Faith Network in her second term. She is President & Founder of Whisper n Thunder Inc., and sits on various boards including the Justa Center and the Phoenix Police Department's Faith Advisory Council. Her awards include the UM Foundation for Evangelism 2004 Distinguished Evangelist; 2016 Church Women United / United Nations Human Rights Award; 2018 Servant Leader Award AZ Faith Network; 2022 Southern Poverty Law Center Certificate of Recognition; and 2022-23 Class of Who's Who in America.
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