Business, Environmental, and Homeowners Groups Urge Governor to Sign Bill to Allow Xeriscaping

The Texas House of Representatives approved on Monday by a comfortable margin a bill that will ensure homeowners the right to install drought resistant landscaping. Sponsored by Kirk Watson in the Senate and Dawnna Dukes in the House, SB 198 passed the Senate with no opposition and now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

In a rare demonstration of broad consensus, SB 198 garnered support from business groups like the Texas Association of Realtors, the Texas Farm Bureau, and the Texas Retailers Association, as well as from environmental organizations and the Texas Community Association Advocates, an HOA advocacy group.

Many of Texas’ Property Owners Associations (POAs) — estimated to number around 25,000 — currently have rules in place that limit or ban drought-efficient landscapes. SB 198 is a compromise agreed to by all 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 xeriscaping.

“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 Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club. “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.”