The San Diego County Water Authority is encouraging water-efficient landscapes with a new turf replacement incentive program designed to reduce irrigation at homes and businesses across the San Diego region. The Water Authority secured state and federal grants to fund the program, which offers $1.50 per square foot for replacing turf grass with plants more suited to the region’s semi-arid climate.
The incentives are part of the Water Authority’s WaterSmart initiative, which emphasizes ways to live a water-efficient lifestyle. About half the water used at the typical home is for landscaping. WaterSmart landscapes can cut water use by up to 70 percent through a combination of proper plant selection and irrigation technology.
“There are huge opportunities to conserve water outside, and people don’t have to sacrifice having an attractive yard to do it,” said Thomas V. Wornham, Chairman of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “This new program reinforces the idea that using water resources intelligently needs to be part of everything we do in San Diego County.”
A 2012 public opinion poll showed that 95 percent of the region’s residents view saving water as a civic responsibility. However, the cost of installing climate-appropriate plants is sometimes an impediment to turning traditional grass yards into more eco-friendly environments. The turf replacement program is designed to help residents, businesses and public agencies make that conversion.
Qualifying residents can receive up to $3,000 for plants and irrigation equipment to convert their front or side yards. Qualifying businesses and public agencies can receive up to $9,000. The federal Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources provided approximately $943,000 to fund the incentives. The money will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Ultimately, the program could transform nearly 630,000 square feet of grass and save more than 27 million gallons of water each year.
“A lot of residents want to get rid of lawns that are expensive to maintain, and this program offers a financial incentive to make it happen,” said Michele Shumate, a water resources specialist at the Water Authority. “With cooler months upon us, it’s a great time to get out in the yard and make the switch to a WaterSmart landscape.”
The WaterSmart Turf Replacement Program includes several restrictions designed to ensure the money will generate the most water savings possible. For program details, go to http://turfreplacement.watersmartsd.org/.