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Metropolitan Water District’s turf-removal program ends due to unprecedented demand
Well, the big boys have taken most of the dough... the program has assisted many homeowners, but the golf courses, large companies have taken a disproportionate amount of the pie.
Will more $$$ come to residential market? Maybe. I think the program will be re-evaluated for its quality and water savings.
Due to an overwhelming response, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California shut down its turf removal rebate program Thursday because it ran out of money, the district announced.
The water agency burned through the last $150 million in the past seven weeks, after the board added $350 million to the fund on May 26, 2015.
All funds have been allocated either for completed projects or for those with approved projects awaiting completion, the agency said.
“We knew that the popularity of the turf program would exhaust the available funds at some point, but even we didn’t predict just how popular turf rebates would become,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, MWD general manager.
The water agency officially closed the popular turf rebate program to new applications at 1 p.m., Coffelt said. The program was predicted to last at least through the end of the year. New applicants are being placed on a stand-by list and could be slotted into the landscape-changing program if others drop out of the queue. Coffelt said about 20 percent to 30 percent sign up but end up dropping out.
MWD’s program, which totaled $450 million, was the largest of its kind in the nation. Kightlinger said the program will result in the removal of more than 150 million square feet of turf — three times what Gov. Jerry Brown had asked for when he issued his executive order on April 1 requiring all Californians to cut water use by 25 percent to help the state weather a severe drought.
The program will save 80,000 acre-feet of water, equal to the amount of water provided to 160,000 households in one year, she said. “It is a significant amount,” Coffelt said.
Because MWD funded the program, its 28 water agency members most likely won’t be able to continue giving out turf-removal rebates.
For example, the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, which covers an area of 1 million people in Los Angeles County, said it could no longer give out turf-removal rebates, sometimes known as cash for grass. Rebates amounted to $2 per square foot or up to a maximum of $6,000 per household.
During the 2014-15 fiscal year, the district saw a 1,200 percent increase in residential rebates over last year, said Shane Chapman, USGVMWD general manager.
“The rebate program was intended to stimulate interest in turf removal to the point that government incentives were not necessary for the long term,” Kightlinger said.
Metropolitan will continue giving out rebates for other water-saving devices such as water-efficient clothes washers, toilets and outdoor irrigation controllers through its website www.bewaterwise.com. The agency has about $50 million left for these rebates, Coffelt said.
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