There was a patch of lawn, several hundred square feet, in a condominium community on the western edge of Las Vegas. A worker with a local landscaping firm had a job to do.
Mr. Gonzalez used a sod cutter to cut the turf away from the soil. Two co-workers gathered the strips for disposal.
Mr. Gonzalez said it was better to replace it with something else. The ground would soon be covered with gravel.
The first of its kind in the nation, patches of grass like this, found along streets and at housing developments and commercial sites in and around Las Vegas, must be removed in favor of more desert-friendly landscaping under a state law passed last year.
The offense? They are nonfunctional and serve only an aesthetic purpose. They are wasting a resource, water, that has become increasingly precious.
The Colorado River, which serves Nevada and six other states, Native American tribes and Mexico, is in dire need of replenishment due to decades of growth and a warming climate.
The problem is particularly acute in Southern Nevada, a state with over 2.5 million people and 40 million tourists a year. 90 percent of the region's drinking water comes from the nearby Lake Mead.
The original water intake was exposed last week as the lake has shrunk since 2000. The Southern Nevada Water Authority spent over a billion dollars to build a much deeper intake and a new pumping station so it can take water even as the level continues to drop.
The new law was passed with bipartisan support and is meant to help ensure that what water there is goes further. It is an example of the kind of strict measures that other regions may be forced to take to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
It shows the choices that have to be made to carry out those measures. Here, an advisory committee of community members, with help from the authority, decided what turf would be functional and what would have to go. The deadline was set by the law.
The maintenance manager at the company where Mr. Gonzalez works said at some homeowners association meetings that people get emotional about turf.
The ban is the result of years of efforts to cut water use, including a voluntary cash for grass program, limits on watering, and the establishment of a team of water waste investigators. The authority's general manager said that measures like these haven't been enough with no end in sight for the drought and continued growth.
The community has been a leader in urban water saving for the last 20 years.
The water authority says that replacing thirsty, sprinkler-fed grass with thirsty, drip-irrigated plants can reduce water use by up to 70 percent. If the grass is replaced with artificial turf, the savings are even greater.
The grass is easy to spot. It is found at roundabouts and on median strips and adorns strip malls and office buildings. It is very common at the common areas of the residential developments that are located all over Las Vegas.
There are little useless pieces of grass.
The authority estimates there are about 3,900 acres of grass to be removed, which could yield savings of up to 9.5 billion gallons of water annually, or 10% of the region's allocation from the Colorado.
Customers get a three dollar per square foot rebate, but in most cases that doesn't come close to covering the cost of removal and replacement with other plants.
One of the largest planned communities in the area, Sun City Anthem, has a huge cost.
Before the law was passed, Mr. Fossan had been removing grass and installing irrigation equipment to save water and money. One of the lawns around the community is on the chopping block because of the law that he helped set as a member of the advisory committee.
Mr. Fossan said he had to take out 53,000 square feet of sod. He got quotes of as much as $9 a square foot to replace the grass with more water efficient landscaping.
In addition to the cost, some residents worry that neighborhoods will lose the character that attracted them to Las Vegas in the first place because of the loss of grass and trees.
Las Vegas has a row of fakes including an Eiffel Tower and an Egyptian pyramid, and many of its residential developments offer their own kind of fantasy. The area is part of the Mojave Desert, so grass and shrubs are used to hide it.
I bought this community because it didn't look like a desert, a common view that we got from customers when we recommended turf reduction to save water.
Two retirees, Hoot and Staci Gibson, moved a few years ago from Bend, Ore., to one of the city's most verdant communities. You might be forgiven for thinking you are in New Hampshire when you drive through the entrance gate.
A lot of greenery has already been removed. He doesn't believe it should have to lose more.
Extreme heat. A heat wave has been hitting India and Pakistan for weeks and is expected to intensify. The heat waves of the future are a reminder of what is to come in an era of climate change.
He is worried about the fate of a grassy strip between the sidewalk and a wall on his street. He and his wife walk their two golden retrievers there.
The Colorado River level is dropping, and people want to be good citizens.
We are trying to say that we need to be able to walk my dogs.
The panel that defined nonfunctional pet relief turf decided that it was only allowed in pet-centered businesses. Waivers can be sought in the law. Mr. Gibson does not think that an appeal will succeed.
The bill sponsored by Mr. Watts will raise more awareness of the problem the region faces. Whenever they turn it on, the tap water always comes out, so the law will help people who may have a bit of a disconnect. I think it will change that.
The water used indoors is treated through the sewer system and then goes back to the lake. Most of the region's water is lost through evaporation. It has been the focus of the water authority's efforts.
The agency pushed for building codes that reduced the amount of grass allowed around newer homes.
The agency's team of investigators make sure that the lawns are observed.
Early one recent morning, one of the investigators, Cameron Donnarumma, was driving his patrol car along a residential street, following a stream of water running down the curb. He stopped in front of a house with a green lawn and a wet sidewalk. Much of the spray was hitting the sidewalk and draining to the curb because the sprinklers were not adjusted correctly.
Mr. Donnarumma can issue warnings, which can lead to violations. The homeowner came out to fix the problem. Mr. Donnarumma gave him some water-conservation literature.
He said that his main goal was to educate.
These and other efforts have helped cut water use by half. The region's population grew by more than 20 percent over the past decade, but the current daily consumption has remained largely flat. More growth is predicted.
The water authority general manager said that the prospects for improvement in the supply seem dim.
The authority wants to cut consumption by 30 percent. Mr. Watts said that the turf ban and other measures would buy the region time to ensure long-term viability.
He said that he got the idea that it was kicking the can down the road.
It is a stark situation for the entire West.