Residents and businesses in the San Diego region may now be eligible for up to $2.50 per square foot in rebates for replacing turf grass with plants more suited to the county’s semi-arid climate.
The incentives are one of the many ways that the San Diego County Water Authority and other water agencies are encouraging practices that make the most of the region’s limited water supplies. Other resources include rebates for highly efficient toilets and clothes washers, discounts on climate-appropriate plants and classes designed to teach customers how to install WaterSmart landscapes.
Turf replacement rebates of up to $2.50 per square foot are the result of complementary programs offered by the Water Authority and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In December 2012, the Water Authority launched a turf replacement program at $1.50 per square foot for homes and businesses using state and federal grant money. MWD recently resumed a complementary program offering $1 per square foot for turf removal.
The Water Authority and MWD rebates can be added together, though they require separate applications and include some differing requirements. Details about the Water Authority’s program, and a link to MWD’s program, are at turfreplacement.watersmartsd.org/.
“In light of the statewide drought, it’s more important than ever for each of us to make water-wise choices that help us stretch our available water supplies,” said Jason Foster, director of Public Outreach and Conservation for the Water Authority. “Replacing your lawn with a great low-water-use landscape means you can still have a beautiful outdoor space while achieving long-term, sustainable water savings."
About half of 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. However, the cost of installing climate-appropriate plants is sometimes an impediment to turning traditional grass yards into more water-efficient environments. The turf replacement programs are designed to help residents, businesses and public agencies make that conversion.
For the Water Authority program, qualifying residents can receive up to $3,000 for plants and irrigation equipment to convert their front yards, or their side yards that are visible from the street. 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 Water Authority is seeking additional grant funding to expand the program.
MWD’s Turf Removal Program applies to front, side and back yards, and it requires at least 250 square feet of turf grass be removed. There is no maximum incentive amount.
Both programs require participants to sign up and be approved for participation before removing turf grass. They will continue until funding runs out.