Given the ongoing water shortage, the Legislature enacted, and Governor Sisolak has signed into law, Assembly Bill 356 which bans “nonfunctional” turf. While this legislation will take effect on July 1, 2021, questions remain as to who will be affected and when must they comply?
To begin, it is important to start with what AB 356 seeks to accomplish. That is, on and after January 1, 2027, Colorado River water cannot be used to irrigate “nonfunctional” turf on any property that is not zoned exclusively as a single-family residence. Stated differently, the legislation does not apply to single-family homes, grass used for recreation at schools or parks. It does, however, apply to all other properties, including condominiums, apartments, and commercial buildings.
But how is “nonfunctional” turf defined? The legislation calls for the Southern Nevada Water Authority to develop a definition of both “functional” and “nonfunctional” turf. To develop these definitions, the law calls for the creation of an Advisory Committee made up of individuals representing businesses, common-interest communities, multi-family housing, environmental organizations, local governments, and golf courses.
In the meantime, the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s website defines “nonfunctional” turf as:
Nonfunctional turf is grass that no one uses for sports, picnics or other recreational activities. Some areas of nonfunctional turf are simply narrow strips grass bordering parking lots, walkways, and sidewalks. These narrow areas of purely decorative grass create significant amounts of sprinkler overspray and water waste.
Other examples of nonfunctional turf are found along streets between the curb and sidewalk; in traffic circles and medians; in landscaping at office parks and commercial properties, and at entryways for housing developments.
If the only person that uses the grass is pushing a lawn mower, it’s nonfunctional.
In essence, this means the turf within parks or other areas used for recreational activities, can remain (at least for now). But if the turf is only touched when mowing, difficult to access, bordering a street or generally not used, the Water Authority considers this nonfunctional. Examples of nonfunctional turf would include at the entrance to a homeowners’ association or apartment community, along roads, in the islands or roadway dividers, or that within commercial complexes.
Given this push to have nonfunctional turf removed, Isaacson Law suggests that affected communities and businesses get a head start on identifying and removing and nonfunctional turf while the Southern Nevada Water Authority rebate program is still in effect. Though the Water Authority has not made any pronouncements, it is foreseeable that with this legislation, those rebates may be going away in the not-too-distant future. Information on how to qualify for the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s rebate program can be found on its website at this link.
Should you have questions regarding SB356 or other recently-enacted legislation, please contact Troy Isaacson at (702) 529-2559.