Is green grass in August really worth it?

by Samantha Murray

Sprinklers use about 265 gallons of water an hour. A 500 square-foot lawn can use more than 18,000 gallons of water per year. And nationwide, landscape irrigation totals nearly 9 billion gallons per day.

Is green grass in August really worth it?

Representative Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro) thinks that choice should be left to individuals, even if they live in a planned community. Homeowner associations in planned communities sometimes have bylaws that require neighborhood lawns to maintain an “attractive appearance.” In other words, individual owners need to water their yards or they could be fined or even sued.

To address this issue, Representative McLain has introduced HB 4090, which allows homeowners to limit or abstain from watering or irrigating so they can save water. In the other chamber, Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena) has introduced SB 1529, which gives owners the same choice, but only in the face of a declared drought emergency. Oregon Environmental Council (OEC) supports the spirit of both of these bills – homeowners should have the option to save water – but prefers HB 4090 because it allows owners to limit watering, regardless of season or geography.

Between one-third and one-half of all residential water use occurs outside of our homes. And some experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted due to evaporation, wind or runoff. That’s why conserving water in landscaped areas like our lawns and gardens offers such great potential for saving water across Oregon.

Indeed, the benefits of making the choice to abstain from irrigating a lawn, garden or other landscaped area — at any time — cascade beyond our neighborhoods and ultimately support our state’s shared economy and durability. Owners within a planned community should be empowered to make ecologically sound choices that make both financial and common sense while protecting our state’s water as a whole.

After all, yellow hibiscuses and purple impatiens aren’t the only game in town. Xeriscaping reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water, without sacrificing aesthetics. And native plants are not only stunning and more resistant to dry weather, but also act as backyard habitat for the local birds and wildlife that call Oregon home.

HB 4090 is exactly the kind of common sense legislation OEC works to advance. By proactively removing legal barriers to sustainable water use, residents of Oregon can conserve water, save money and ensure our state and economy are better prepared in the face of climate change. Certainly this is worth the cost of a few golden lawns.

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1 Reply to "Is green grass in August really worth it?"

  • Don
    February 17, 2016 (6:49 pm)

    Regarding water and green grass. We have a well that has been follow four times a year by Water Resources since mid 50’s. It has always recovered every winter. The Willamette Valley has an excellent under ground water source. To say otherwise is very misleading and could make on wonder what else is published that is not supportable by good data.