Aurora City Council adopts new limits for residents’ grass lawns, golf courses to reduce water use

Aurora will no longer allow “cool-weather” turf grasses to be installed for golf courses or new home developments after the City Council adopted new rules to curb the city’s water use Monday night.

The new ordinance, passed unanimously, bans cool-weather turf such as Kentucky bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass and limits the amount of the grasses that can be in backyards. It also prohibits these types of grasses from being used in common areas unless they’re active recreational areas. Similarly, the turf can only be placed in commercial and multifamily developments as well as schools if they are active recreation areas, not for aesthetic purposes and ornamental water features would not be allowed.

There are some exceptions, including for site plan applications submitted to the city prior to Sept. 30.

In both backyards and residential front yards where backyard sizes don’t allow for turf, residents can only have 45% or 500 square feet of the yard, whichever is less, be covered by the grasses.

Mayor Mike Coffman backed the proposal, noting that 50% of Aurora’s water use is from lawn irrigation. The ordinance states that “water scarcity in the arid west is compounded by water availability and population growth,” and that “water used in irrigation and ornamental water features severely limits the amount of water that can be recaptured by Aurora Water’s Prairie Waters potable reuse system.”

“Water-use landscapes are attractive, require less maintenance, save water and better withstand drought,” it continued. “Eliminating high water use turf in nonfunctional and aesthetic areas maximizes the amount of available reusable water, a primary goal of Aurora Water.”

City Council members approved an amendment to Coffman’s initial proposal that requires the city to conduct a study after three years on the effects the ordinance has had on water use, household water rates, home values and prices, new home construction and adoption of similar ordinances in the region.

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