Earlier this week, the California Department of Water Resources presented a $38 million check to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). The grant funding comes from the state’s Urban Community Drought Relief program, which has awarded over $217 million to 44 projects to help communities strengthen drought resilience and better prepare for future dry conditions.
MWD plans to use the funds to assist businesses and institutions in complying with a new state ban on using potable drinking water to irrigate non-functional lawns. Entities within MWD’s service area can apply for rebates for replacing turf with more sustainable landscaping.
“We had a very wet winter, but the time is now to adapt to California’s drier future. It’s the perfect time to transform our yards away from thirsty lawns into drought resilient gardens.
Our funding today ensures that communities, regardless of income, can withstand future droughts,” said Karla Nemeth, Department of Water Resources director. “But we can’t just conserve water – California is doubling down on infrastructure to capture, move, store and recycle water to better prepare for extreme swings between floods and drought. The Delta tunnel, expansion of surface reservoirs and groundwater aquifers, and large-scale recycled water projects are all needed to ensure a strong economy and healthy environment in the face of a changing climate.”
MWD is increasing its turf replacement rebate for businesses and institutions from $2 to $3 a square foot in 2024. The District claims the program has directly resulted in the removal of about 218 million square feet of grass since its inception.
Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1572, legislation co-sponsored by Metropolitan to phase out the use of potable water to irrigate grass that is not used for recreation or other purposes on commercial, industrial, municipal and institutional properties, beginning in 2027.
“As businesses and institutions comply with this new mandate, we hope they will replace their non-functional turf with sustainable landscapes,” said Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil. “This partnership will help them in that transformation.”
MWD also plans to use the grant to help local public fire departments purchase water-recirculating units that conserve water during essential training exercises — saving over 12 acre-feet of water per unit per year.