Editor Column: Get that grass out of here | PostIndependent.com

Editor Column: Get that grass out of here

Growing up, my father never let my brothers and me have a slip-and-slide, because he said it would kill the grass.

“Who cares?” we responded.

For what it’s worth, the lawn never looked that great; certainly nothing like the neighbors who always had a lush sea of green surrounding their home.

Now, as a mid-20-year-old transplant from the Midwest, I find it equally difficult to wrap my head around the obsession with lawns in our high-desert community, a topic that garnered some attention amid the water restrictions in the past month.

Before getting too far into the weeds — or the Kentucky bluegrass — the frustration expressed by some people is understandable. Having dropped $80 (that is a good chunk of change in the context of my budget) to spruce up the yard, only to have the plants dry-up and die, I too was irked by the circumstances.

But while staring at the shriveled brown remnants decorating our front yard, I questioned my motive for purchasing the plants in first place.

None of those species were native, and although I was informed they required little water, which clearly was not the case, a little more research may have helped me find something more suitable for our hot and dry climate.

My frustration nearly boiled over at my previous apartment, where the irrigation system kicked on in the summer months and my utility bill jumped $50 to $70 a month … all for some grass.

Driving around Rifle and other communities, it seems many of us would benefit by embracing the concept of xeriscaping, landscaping that uses native vegetation to reduce or eliminate the need for additional irrigation.

Although Rifle and the rest of the Western Slope are far from the only communities frivolously using a vital resource for exterior appearances, the situation here is troubling when you break it down into hard numbers.

Estimates from the city of Rifle put average daily interior use per person in 2015 at 72.7 gallons, while outdoor usage associated with irrigation was estimated at 48.1 gallons. Those averages are based on a year’s worth of data, which includes winter months when people presumably are not watering their lawns. Put those numbers into percentages and it comes out to 40 percent of water use is associated with irrigation.

It is worth noting that water consumption has dropped since 2008, when the overall estimated water consumption per person per day was 190.8 gallons.

Still, the breakdown of interior vs. irrigation use in 2015 is a draw-dropping figure.

It simply does not make sense that we all need lush green lawns consisting of nonnative vegetation sucking up nearly as much water as we drink and use for bathing and other indoor uses. It’s time to rip up that turf or simply let it die.

As it was pointed out at the “state of the river” seminar in Rifle earlier this year, the Upper Colorado River Basin is doing OK. Our neighbors in the Lower Colorado River Basin, however, cannot say the same. With demand exceeding supply, the levels in some of our reservoirs are dropping, most notably Lake Mead.

Some communities in the West, along with other drought measures, have encouraged xeriscaping through incentive programs.

While there is little indication that we on the Western Slope are headed for such dire circumstances in the immediate future, it would be commendable if we were proactive and kicked our water guzzling landscapes to the curb.

At the end of the day, is it really worth paying all that money to keep it green?

Ryan Hoffman is the editor at The Citizen Telegram. You can reach him at 970-685-2103 or at rhoffman@citizentelegram.com.

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