Desert Water Agency earns $425,000 in Grants for Grass Removal Program

Desert Water Agency (DWA) was awarded $425,000 from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) for its grass removal program.

These funds will help residents, businesses and homeowners associations within Desert Water Agency’s boundaries replace grass with less water-intensive options.

“This is a win-win for our customers,” said Board President Joseph K. Stuart. “They get access to incentives for their properties but most importantly, the program helps DWA avoid significant costs for imported water supplies in the future.”

The grass removal program, which began in 2014, currently gives customers two dollars per square foot of grass replaced. This year alone, the program will remove about 330,000 square feet of grass – with an estimated savings of roughly 20.5 million gallons a year.

“Removing grass saves water for the customer and the Agency for years on end,” said General Manager Mark Krause. “Fewer customers want water-intensive grass and our incentives are a tipping point to encourage many to take the step to get rid of it.”

Interested parties can apply now as the program currently has funding available. Over the years, it has largely been grant funded through various disbursements from the Department of Water Resources, and also funding from Sentinel Energy Center.

DWR announced its final awards for Proposition 1 Round 1 Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) grant awards earlier this month. As a part of this award to our region, Desert Water Agency will receive $350,000 in grant funding – $60,000 to assist the City of Palm Springs with developing an Airport Demonstration Garden and $290,000 for grass removal incentives for customers.

USBR also notified DWA this month of its successful application for the Small-scale Water Efficiency Program (SWEP). This $75,000 award will also go toward grass removal. The USBR grant application was developed with the help of a technical support grant of 40 hours of expertise from WaterNow Alliance, a 501(c)3 focused on water sustainability. This assistance minimized DWA staff time and eliminated the need for a consultant to develop the grant application.

Both grants are now in the contracting phase. DWA hopes to have the final agreements signed and in place by the end of 2020. The funds will be used over the course of the coming years along with funding from Sentinel Energy Center and the Agency’s own budget.

The grass removal incentive is just one of DWA’s water conservation programs. Other incentives are available for smart irrigation controllers, efficient nozzles, high efficiency washing machines and more.

DWA aims to reduce its use by at least ten percent compared to 2013, the State’s baseline year for drought conservation reporting. Over the past twelve months, the Agency’s customers have achieved savings of about 19%, nearly double the goal.

For more information, please contact Outreach & Conservation Manager Ashley Metzger at (760) 323-4971 ext. 184, or via e-mail at [email protected].

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