Popular turf removal rebate program returning

By on April 21, 2018

By JIM STEINBERG

Are you tired of the way your lawn looks?

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s popular turf removal rebates are returning.

Starting in July, business and residential customers will again have incentives to dig out that water-wasting grass, give properties a new look, and receive $1 per square foot for turf removed.

Some MWD member agencies will provide additional incentives.

“We are looking at a broader concept with more continuity than the earlier turf removal rebate,” Bob Muir, MWD spokesman, said Friday.

The initial program paid $2 per square foot for turf removal it ended after the expenditure of about $340 million, he said.

“That was to build momentum,” he said.

There will be year-after-year continuity in the current program, which he said the program will accept up to $50 million in applications each year.

“Metropolitan made a huge mark on the landscape of Southern California with our turf removal rebate during the five-year drought. We hope to continue the region’s transformation and build on that momentum through our new rebate,” MWD board Chairman Randy Record said, in a statement announcing the restart of the program.

The earlier turf removal program, which ended in 2015, is expected to save 21,600 acre-feet of water annually from the removal of 160 million square feet of grass, MWD said, in its statement.

The Landscape Transformation Program includes new rules with a rebate maximum of 1,500 square feet of turf removed for residents and 10,000 square feet for businesses. Rules also require a landscape plan, a watershed approach, efficient irrigation, a certain number of water- saving plants and mulch coverage. Synthetic turf is prohibited.

In addition, homeowners must remove turf from their front yard. If they do or have done their front lawns in the past, they are eligible to receive a rebate for removing turf from their side or backyard.

“Part of the success of the Landscape Transformation Program is the multiplier effect,” said Bill McDonnell, Metropolitan’s water use efficiency manager. “Neighbors see neighbors replace their grass with colorful California Friendly plants. They see the beauty, the birds, the butterflies it attracts, and they want to do the same. That’s why we want to focus on front yards.”

The long-term nature of the new program provides some reliability to residents and businesses who are planning to redo their yards in the coming years, he added. “We recognize that replacing your lawn is a big project. If you can’t do it this year, but plan to next, the rebate will be back next year,” McDonnell said.

Jim Steinberg is an award-winning business, environmental and medical writer.