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'Beginning Of The End' For Lawns? Officials Order Limits On Water Use For Landscaping

LOS ANGELES ( — State officials Wednesday ordered an end to traditional grassy lawns for new homes and businesses as they continue targeting ornamental landscapes as a waste of water.

The statewide Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) restricts the size of grassy areas on any new property to 25 percent of the total landscaping.

California Water Commission members voted on the proposed revisions to MWELO, which also includes a requirement for all new homes with more than 500 square feet of landscaping to get a permit from the state.

But the rules don't mean new homes will be devoid of lawns. Builders can also comply by using recycled water from showers and toilets to water traditional-looking lawns.

Local governments must comply or adopt similar rules by the end of the year. The state already updated its building standards to minimize lawn watering.

Opponents say lawns have been unfairly scapegoated and targeted for removal, the consequences of which some say could include increased heat, pollution, carbon emissions and even more severe drought.

Peter Gleick, director of the Pacific Institute, says it marks a dramatic departure for state water policy.

"Maybe it's the beginning of the end of the lawn in California," said Gleick. "We can still have beautiful gardens."

The state Department of Water Resources adopted MWELO in 2009 in order to ensure efficiency in urbanlandscapes.

It wasn't immediately clear how the state would enforce the restrictions if approved by the Water Commission.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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