By Heidi Kratsch, Nevada Landscape Association President
On July 17, I had the great privilege to be invited to testify at the Nevada Drought Forum on behalf of the Nevada Landscape Association. Governor Sandoval established the Nevada Drought Forum to “bring together the best minds, managers and all interested stakeholders to assess the drought in Nevada, to identify best conservation practices and policy needs, and make recommendations to the Governor regarding next steps.”
With the support and guidance of other Nevada Landscape Association board members, I put together a document that addressed the impact of drought on our industry, how we are responding, and obstacles to achieving further levels of water efficiency. The facts that Nevada is the driest state in the nation, and that over two-thirds of household water is used on the landscape, are potentially damning to our industry. My goal was to put these facts into perspective, balancing them with other facts about the known environmental benefits of a planted landscape and the relative inefficiency of many of our old, outdated irrigation systems.
Here are the main points we put forward:
- Removing small, nonfunctional, hard-to-irrigate areas of turfgrass from landscapes is a positive steps towards saving water.
- Removing entire lawns and replacing them with hardscape and rock or decomposed granite kills trees, increases home cooling costs during the summer, and lowers property values.
- Turfgrass requires much less water than most people apply.
- Many of the existing irrigation systems in our urban areas are outdated and inefficient.
- New irrigation technologies exist that can result in greater irrigation efficiency.
- Education of our industry and our citizens is critical to achieving landscape water efficiency.
Landscape irrigation is not a waste of water, considering the many environmental benefits our landscapes provide. As the Green Industry, we have a responsibility to not only educate the public, or legislators, and the Governor about the value of our trees and other landscape plants to the livability of our cities and to the quality of our lives. If we don’t, others with less complete information will, and are, making decisions for us.