For the past 30 years, the master-planned community of Summerlin® has set high standards for urban and residential development. A development of The Howard Hughes Corp.® (HHC), Summerlin is again leading by example as it creates a more sustainable, water-efficient community by replacing more than 120,000 square feet of grass along Summerlin Parkway and at residential community entrances with water-efficient landscape.
“We live in the driest desert in North America, and we have to acknowledge that,” said Tom Warden, HHC senior vice president of community and government relations. The Summerlin Council, which oversees the parks and amenities, is participating in the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Water Smart Landscapes rebate program to upgrade aesthetic grass landscape areas with desert-adapted plants and trees. The landscape rebate pays property owners up to $3 per square foot of grass replaced with drip-irrigated landscapes.
According to Warden, recreational grass areas such as parks will remain a cornerstone of the community. Summerlin is targeting non-functional turf that lines development entrances, medians and roadways such as Summerlin Parkway, which serves as the community’s official main entrance.
Built decades prior to the 22-year drought that hit the Colorado River, from which Southern Nevada gets 90 percent of its water supply, Summerlin Parkway was blanketed with nearly 90,000 square feet of grass that consumed 6.5 million gallons of water a year to keep it lush and green for motorists driving by at 45 miles per hour or more. Replacing the non-functional grass will save 5 million gallons annually and earn the company nearly $150,000 in cash incentives.
“Summerlin recognizes that turf served its purpose and had its time. Upgrading to a more appropriate desert landscape not only will save water and reduce the community association’s water bills, it also will reduce landscape maintenance and operations costs,” said Patrick Watson, SNWA conservation program administrator. Watson noted that converting from spray irrigation to a drip system reduces water damage to hardscapes such as streets, sidewalks, monument signs and buildings.
In addition to the landscape upgrades, Summerlin has invested in water-smart irrigation controllers to better manage the community’s irrigation systems. While SNWA offers a Water Efficient Technologies rebate to properties that replace older irrigation models with smart controllers, Warden said a front-end investment for new landscape installations is worth the initial costs.
“These controllers pay for themselves. For example, in Summerlin South, we put in 10 new landscape areas but still reduced our water use by 38 million gallons a year by using smart controllers,” Warden said.
Summerlin’s current Water Smart Landscape projects are expected to be completed throughout the year. The projects are targeting grass in older development entrances, streetscapes and medians in addition to the grass it has started to replace along Summerlin Parkway.
“We still will have a wonderful outdoor environment here in Summerlin. But, we will do so without wasting a ton of water. That’s our plan and it’s important to us because we think it’s important to the people who live in Summerlin,” Warden said.
SNWA research indicates Warden is correct. Surveys of master-planned community residents show they expect their HOAs and management companies to use water responsibly and replace non-functional grass with water-smart landscaping.
“Homeowner’s associations (HOAs) in Southern Nevada are still watering more than 64 million square feet of non-functional turf,” Watson said, “That’s close to five billion gallons of water every year to maintain grass for purely visual effect.” Watson noted that SNWA is determined to replace grass that only serves an aesthetic purpose in order to protect Southern Nevada’s water resources and long-term economic viability. “We’re here to help HOAs and businesses save water. That’s what the Water Smart Landscapes and Water Efficient Technologies rebates are designed to do.”
SNWA makes it easy for businesses to save water, according to Watson. “We provide on-site consultations to businesses looking to save water and reduce their operating costs. And, we can implement projects in phases to accommodate capital improvement schedules and budgets.”
Find out how you can reduce your business’ operating costs and take advance of cash incentives by contacting one of SNWA’s business experts at 702-862-3740 today and visit snwa.com to learn more.