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More Southern Californians Giving Up Water-Guzzling Lawns For Rebates

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(Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An increasing number of Southern Californians are willing to give up their grass to help conserve water – and to take advantage of a doubled lawn removal rebate.

In May, the Metropolitan Water District, which provides water for nearly 19 million people in six Southern California counties, raised its rebate for lawn removal from $1 to $2 per square foot.

According to the MWD, requests in July for residential turf removal rebates increased to 2.5 million square, the equivalent to removing 1,665 typical Southland front yards, up from 99,000 square feet in January.

“The tremendous public response clearly demonstrates that Southern California residents and businesses are fully engaged and enthusiastically answering the statewide mandate to lower demands in this difficult drought,” said Randy Record, chairman of the MWD board.

Lawn removal rebates increased from 22,000 square feet in January to 4.7 million square feet of turf, or 82 football fields, in July alone.

In the first seven months of the year, commercial rebates nearly tripled, and residential incentives doubled compared to the similar period last year, according to the MWD.

There have also been five times the usual number of visitors to bewaterwise.com, the district’s online drought information and rebate site, between January and July.

Demands for imported water from the MWD have dropped 15 percent compared to the last dry cycle in 2006-07, even though MWD’s coverage area has grown by more than 500,000 people.

“Southern California’s recent gains in water-use efficiency continue a long pattern throughout the region that has seen per capita water use drop about 25 percent since 1990,” MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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