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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — Aurora’s mayor is proposing major changes that could drastically alter how the city looks in the future. 

The proposal aims to eliminate non-functional turf on new development and redevelopment projects after Jan. 1, 2023. It would apply to residential, commercial and city properties. 

“It’s the new reality for Colorado, is that we are really a state, a region that is stressed when it comes to water,” Mayor Mike Coffman said. 

According to Aurora Water, half of the city’s water is used for outdoor purposes annually. 

“I really got interested in this when there was a golf course going through the process and found out that it can use up to a million gallons a day during the summer,” Coffman said.

Under Coffman’s proposal, no new golf courses would be permitted within the City of Aurora. It would also prohibit ornamental grasses that only exist for looks, including at homes. 

“On residential homes, we’re saying you have to xeriscape your entire front yard and your side yard,” Coffman said. 

According to the proposed ordinance, xeriscaping is a landscape technique incorporating hardscape, shrubs, perennials and warm-season grasses that require fewer than 15 inches of water per year. Traditional turf, like Kentucky bluegrass, typically requires between 15-28 inches of moisture annually. 

“Aurora averages less than 15 inches precipitation per year,” a supporting document for the ordinance says. 

Residential homes built in 2023 or after would be allowed some grass in the backyard. However, it would be limited to 45% of the backyard area or 500 square feet, whichever is less. 

The proposed ordinance does not impact current homeowners or their landscapes. However, the city said it intends to offer incentives to homeowners to help them replace their lawns with water-wise landscaping if they choose to.

According to Coffman, there is still enough time to implement changes to future developments that would ensure water security without having to impact current residents. 

“I grew up in Colorado and I get it that I grew up with green lawns and water without end, and those days are over,” Coffman said. “If we don’t have these new policies going forward, I’ll tell you what. You’re going to pay a whole lot more for your water and we’re going to have to come down with drastic measures that will impact existing homeowners.”

The proposal would allow for grass to be installed in designated recreation or activity areas at multi-family developments, commercial properties, schools and parks. It would ban the installation of ornamental water features like ponds and fountains in all public and private outdoor areas. It would also prohibit the removal of water-wise landscaping in order to replace it with turf. 

“We’re going to continue to grow but we’re going to continue to grow responsibly,” Coffman said. “There are climate change issues, there are prolonged drought issues and we are a growing state so we really need to recognize that.”

When asked how this will affect Aurora businesses that rely on grass and ornamental water features for work, Coffman said he believes the proposed ordinance will create more opportunities. 

“I think there’s actually gonna be more opportunities because you’re not only talking prospectively about new properties but the fact that we’re incentivizing existing properties to change,” he said.