Dec. 21 2020 07:41 AM

Enough grass converted since 1999 to wrap a roll of sod completely around the world.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority, Las Vegas, has reached a new milestone with its Water Smart Landscapes Rebate Program. With the recent completion of residential and commercial landscape conversions, the WSL program surpassed more than 197,000,000 square feet of grass converted in the Las Vegas Valley. That’s enough to roll an 18-inch-wide strip of sod completely around the circumference of the Earth.

The initiative encourages converting turf for desert-adapted landscaping.

“Conservation only happens when the community does its part and Southern Nevada has shown its ability to work collectively in conserving our limited water supply,” says John Entsminger, SNWA general manager. “As we celebrate this remarkable milestone, it is more important than ever that this community continues removing grass and making water-smart decisions about our outdoor spaces.”

The monumental WSL program milestone was achieved after local residents and businesses completed nearly 67,700 water-smart landscape conversion projects throughout the valley, collectively saving more than 140 billion gallons of water. For their efforts, the SNWA paid out more than $247 million to program participants since 1999. On an annual basis, the WSL program saved nearly 11 billion gallons of water, equal to about 10% of Southern Nevada’s annual Colorado River allocation.

The average square foot of grass in Southern Nevada requires 73 gallons per year to survive, equivalent to a 10-foot column of water on every square foot of grass. By comparison, water-efficient landscaping requires only 17 gallons per year. By converting grass to water-smart landscaping, Southern Nevadans saved enough water to fill the Luxor Pyramid nearly 400 times.

The WSL program offers a rebate of $3 per square foot of grass replaced with desert landscaping up to the first 10,000 square feet converted per property, per year (and $1.50 per square foot beyond that). The maximum award for any property in a fiscal year is $500,000.

In addition to WSL, the SNWA provides rebate incentives for smart irrigation controllers and leak detectors, and coupons redeemable at car washes that recycle water.