Letter to the Editor: Are grassy lawns really practical in a drought-ridden state?

Myra Khan, a freshman sustainability major, suggests xeriscaping at ASU to counter Arizona's drought

Arizona has been suffering from a drought for over twenty years

Over twenty years, which is longer than most of us have been alive. For twenty years, the state’s crops have been suffering, and vulnerable communities have been having to survive on limited reserves, not to mention recent studies that have emerged explaining how the Colorado River’s water has been over-allocated

As a sustainability major, I think about the drought on almost a daily basis. I think about how much water each shower uses, and if I could really make that much of an impact by doing less loads of laundry each month. 

But regardless of my own actions, my mind always travels back to early October when, at the height of Hurricane Rosa’s torrent, I could hardly get through campus without being ankle-deep in rainwater. 

At the time, I was thankful for the much-needed rain. But, without fail, every time I walked back to my dorm, books clutched to my chest under my umbrella, I would see the sprinklers in Hayden and Barrett’s lawns on as though it was the driest of days.

I get that lawns need to be watered a lot to stay lush, but is that really an efficient use of our resources, especially when the vastness of the green areas are considered? 

Not only is tending to grassy lawns an issue of high cost, but it’s also not a responsible use of a resource as increasingly scarce as water. 

Personally, I think we could do without quite a few of the rarely used grassy areas altogether, and simply replace them with far less costly and lower maintenance xeriscape, which is landscaping that reduces the need of water. We do live in the desert, after all.

Naturally, this isn’t just an ASU problem. 

We Arizonians love our lush green lawns and golf courses, even at the immense dollar and resource cost needed to maintain such luxuries. But if we are to remain conscious of the ongoing drought, is it really responsible of us to continue maintaining these areas? 

Shouldn’t ASU try to be a sustainable and innovative model for the rest of the community? Even if the water is reclaimed, isn’t there a better, more necessary way to use it?

Obviously, it isn’t practical nor is it fair to say no one is allowed to plant any water-intensive plants anywhere as of now, but I think it’s important to start thinking about the impacts all this watering causes. 

We might have lush lawns today but what happens tomorrow when the drought worsens and we’ve cultivated a lifestyle that requires so much excess water to maintain? For now, I think we should start giving xeriscape a shot.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this letter to the editor are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. This letter to the editor was submitted by ASU freshman Myra Khan, studying sustainability. 

Reach the author at makhan21@asu.edu.

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