SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Senate voted unanimously on Monday to support a bill that increases the amount of money to get you to ditch your lawn.

Senate Bill 118, sponsored by Sen. Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton, now increases the amount of money offered for turf buyback incentives to $10 million. It will be matched by local water districts.

The bill is designed to incentivize people to get rid of "non-functional turf," which is lawn that is largely ornamental. In Utah's ongoing drought and with the emergency facing the Great Salt Lake, outdoor water conservation is one of the top ways to help stretch water supplies.

SB118 is being merged with a House version that does similar. But a provision banning non-functional turf in future development has been removed. Asked about that, Sen. Sandall said they will save that for another time.

"I think that’s a good policy discussion we have to have. First of all, we have to try the carrot approach rather than the stick approach, quite honestly," he told FOX 13 News.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

A number of cities, particularly in southern Utah, are beginning to ban non-functional turf in future developments to save water.

Depending on where you live, you can be offered anywhere from $1 to $2 per square foot of lawn. An analysis by the Great Salt Lake Collaborative (of which FOX 13 News is a member) found $1.50 was the most offered in a turf buyback by other water districts in Utah. By comparison, the Southern Nevada Water Authority based in Las Vegas offers $3 a square foot as an incentive. Las Vegas, which FOX 13 News and the Great Salt Lake Collaborative found in recent reporting, has been very aggressive about removing nonfunctional, water-hogging turf in the desert. The Nevada legislature recently passed a bill to ban all nonfunctional turf and get rid of it by the end of 2026.

Fox 13 Reporter
Ben Winslow is FOX 13's reporter on Capitol Hill covering a wide variety of topics including politics, polygamy, vice and courts. He has been in the news business in Utah for more than 20 years now, working in radio, newspaper, television and digital news. Winslow has received numerous honors for his reporting, including a national Edward R. Murrow award; the Religion Newswriters Association Local TV News Report of the Year; the Utah Broadcaster's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Readers of Salt Lake City Weekly and Q Salt Lake have named him their "Best TV news reporter" for many years now. He co-hosts "Utah Booze News: An Alcohol Policy Podcast," covering the state's often confusing and quirky liquor laws. Winslow is also known for his very active Twitter account keeping Utahns up-to-date on important news.

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