Business, Environmental & Homeowners Groups Urge Governor to Sign Bill to Allow Drought Tolerant & Water Conserving Landscaping

SB 198 Press Release LogosFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 20, 2013
Contact: David Foster, Clean Water Action – (512) 550-2402
Jennifer Walker, Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter – (512) 627-9931
Susan Wright, Texas Community Association Advocates – (210) 827-1133
Stephanie Gibson, Texas Retailers Association – (512) 497-7071

 Business, Environmental & Homeowners Groups
Urge Governor to Sign Bill to Allow Drought Tolerant & Water Conserving Landscaping

The Texas House of Representatives approved legislation Monday that will ensure homeowners can install drought resistant and water conserving landscaping should they choose to do so. Authored by Senator Kirk Watson and Representative Dawnna Dukes, Senate Bill 198 has been sent to the Governor for his signature.

The bill garnered broad support from business groups like the Texas Association of Realtors, Texas Farm Bureau, and Texas Retailers Association, as well as from environmental organizations and the Texas Community Association Advocates, an advocacy group for property owners associations.

Many Texas property owners associations (POAs) – estimated to number around 25,000 — currently have rules in place that limit or ban drought-efficient landscapes. Senate Bill 198 is a compromise agreed to by many affected stakeholders that will still allow POAs to give prior approval to, and lay down guidelines for, revisions to a homeowner’s yard, as long as they do not unreasonably restrict or ban drought resistant landscaping or water conserving natural turf.

“We all understand that Texas needs to use our limited water resources more efficiently to meet the needs of our growing population and keep our economy going,” said Susan Wright, Chair-Elect of Texas Community Association Advocates. “And we know that saving water does not need to mean reducing your landscape to rocks and cacti. This bill allows homeowners to reduce their water use – and their bills – without compromising property values or aesthetics and without eliminating the review and approval process of the Association granted in many deed restrictions..”

“Texas faces an unprecedented water crisis, and we need to act now to promote water conservation and eliminate barriers to conservation where they exist,” said Jennifer Walker, Water Resources Coordinator for the Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter. “Lawn watering can account for 60% or more of a typical homeowner’s overall water usage. Every Texan who chooses to do their part to reduce water use should be allowed to do so. Water efficient landscapes offer an easy way to conserve.”

“Texas retailers commend the legislature for recognizing the importance of homeowner’s rights while protecting our environment and precious water resource through the allowance of natural drought tolerant landscape,” said Stephanie Gibson, Governmental Affairs Consultant for Texas Retailers Association.

“The beauty of SB 198 is that it promotes water conservation without costing the taxpayer a single dime,” said David Foster, State Director for Clean Water Action. “And it won’t force homeowners to alter a single blade of grass if they don’t want to. It simply gives them the freedom to install a water-efficient landscape on their own property if they do want to. We urge Governor Perry to sign the bill at the earliest opportunity.”

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