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Large-scale grass removals ramp up as Las Vegas valley water crisis deepens

Landscapers remove grass from Anthem Country Club Golf Course ahead of water cuts passed by the Henderson City Council for 2024.
Posted at 6:51 PM, Mar 20, 2023

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Country clubs, businesses, and homeowners are rallying behind efforts to get rid of water guzzling grass. The push to decrease water use across the valley comes as Lake Mead is predicted to hit a new all-time low come April.

The Bureau of Reclamation released a report on March 16 showing Lake Mead's water level is about 1,045', or 183 feet below its 1983 peak. Despite a heavy rain and snow year in southern Nevada, the lake is predicted to hit an all time low in April 2023 at 1036'.

LAKE MEAD WATER: Authorities to lower intake straw to maintain valley's water supply.

"We live in the driest part of the United States and that reality sort of has to set in," said Superintendent of the Golf Course at Anthem Country Club James Symons.

"Here at Anthem Country Club Golf Course in Henderson," Symons continued, "they are about halfway through with their water conservation project. Right now, crews are removing about 20 acres of decorative grass."

WATER CUTS: Henderson City Council approves water cuts to golf courses starting January 1, 2024.

Golf courses like the one at Anthem have recently removed 900 acres of grass (outside the playing areas) throughout the valley.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority calls the removals one of the most effective ways to preserve our valley's water. The authority's spokesperson, Bronson Mack, says efforts like this are making a difference.

Mack tells KTNV that there are about 30 golf courses in the valley and about half of them have already reduced their yearly water usage from six acre feet to just four acre feet. This adds up to about 1.3 million saved gallons of water.

In the first quarter of the year, homes and businesses have removed roughly two million square feet of grass in the Las Vegas area.

Homeowners, specifically, have replaced 834,000 square feet either with turf or desert landscape. Commercial properties in the area have removed over 1 million square feet.

Symons says these efforts are not something he would typically expect in signing up to become a golf course superintendent. "You don't anticipate doing this large of a scale conversion," he continued, "we all live in this valley and this problem is big, and even with all this rain we are going to need a lot more to make a dent in this water crisis."