What am I reading now? Well, since I just got back from a vacation to California and Yosemite National Park, I am mostly catching up on emails. But, the trip did revive one of my earliest interests in urban planning, and that is water resource planning. Here in the northeast we are fortunate to have access to freshwater and tend to take watering our lawns, roaring rivers, and running through sprinklers for granted, but my trip to California reminded me how dry the southwest can be and the ever present danger of lengthening periods of drought. Yosemite Falls was dry, there were signs of widespread wild fires everywhere, and vegetation along the trails looked like they hadn’t had a drop of water in months. On my return trip I came across an article in the New York Times about how municipalities are facing their lack of water head-on, by offering incentives for residents to remove their lawns in favor of less water dependent landscapes such as succulents and other drought-tolerant plants. Las Vegas Valley Water District was the first to offer a “turf removal rebate” and has spent almost $200 million since 2003 removing grass from residences and businesses. The incentive programs are not well received by all residents, but it is a proactive approach to a challenge being faced by a growing number of communities. Check out this news article about water resource planning in the southwest.