NewsGreat Salt Lake Collaborative


Utah Senate passes bill offering more money to get rid of lawns

Posted at 3:24 PM, Feb 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-07 00:11:23-05

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.

READ: Real-time updates on 2023 Utah State Legislature

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.

This article is published through the Great Salt Lake Collaborative, a solutions journalism initiative that partners news, education and media organizations to help inform people about the plight of the Great Salt Lake—and what can be done to make a difference before it is too late. Read all of our stories at