BWS Colorado Turf Legislation Sign-on Letter

Dear Legislators,

Colorado’s rivers, streams and lakes represent a core part of the state’s identity and remain fundamental to sustaining a viable economy throughout the state. These key attributes attract businesses and employees to either relocate or remain in the state. We face water issues that have profound impacts throughout the state as we continue to grow and climate change impacts the supply of water all over Colorado. The state needs to develop our collective capacity to ensure our water users and rivers can continue to thrive. This includes the development of tools and systems through lawmaking, funding, and creative partnerships for Colorado to respond nimbly to this uncertain future.

Specifically, we call on the state legislature to pass and for the governor to sign legislation restricting the use of turf in new development. The bill is SB24-005 and is sponsored by Senators Roberts and Simpson and Representatives McCormick and McLachlan and was referred to the General Assembly by the Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee and represents a good starting point in reducing the water used for outdoor landscaping, building on the turf replacement fund recently created by the legislature. In addition to incentivizing the replacement of high water use landscaping through the turf replacement fund, we support efforts to restrict the installation of such turf in new development. We believe it is fiscally prudent to stop installing new turf that we then provide an incentive to replace.

We would like to see the legislation expanded to include some restrictions of turf on residential properties. Residential development uses significant amounts of water for outdoor landscaping and can be reduced while still allowing some turf. Aurora, Castle Rock, and other jurisdictions in Colorado have restricted turf in new residential development.

The legislation is a common-sense approach that builds on the efforts undertaken by some municipalities and applies some of those requirements throughout the state. It is important to note the legislation impacts new development or sizeable redevelopment. Other states in the region have taken similar steps, or gone much further.

This legislation will help Colorado meet growing demands for water brought on by continued growth in the state, deal with the impacts of climate change on our water supply and leave water in rivers for the benefit of all. Our economy depends on new and sustainable ways to ensure that businesses, and all water users, continue to thrive regardless of an uncertain future. This is critical for the stability and longevity of a thriving economy throughout the state.

We urge you to support the legislation, which represents another step on the path to sustainable water policy in the state, and support expansion to include residential properties.