LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With so many Southern Californians eager to remove their water-guzzling lawns amid this historic drought, the Metropolitan Water District added $350 million to its budget to keep offering rebates and incentives.
According to a MWD staff report, there has been an “unprecedented increase in additional requests for turf-removal projects” since Gov. Jerry Brown called for 25 percent reduction in water use across the state.
The MWD’s two-year conservation budget is now at $450 million.
In the three weeks following Brown’s order, turf-removal requests increased above $10 million, including between 2,500 and 3,000 residential removal requests per week.
“In the recent two weeks, additional requests for turf removal more than tripled to above $32.8 million for the week ending on May 3 and more than quadrupled to $48.2 (million) for the week ending on May 10,” according to the MWD report.
The report also noted that rebate requests have also been “robust” for installation of water-saving devices. Through May 17, the agency has paid $24.7 million for rebates for 2014-15.
Last month, the MWD board ordered a 15 percent cut in the amount of water it supplies to its 26 member agencies across Southern California. It was only the fourth time in the agency’s history that it has taken such an action.
The board also voted to place restrictions on commercial rebates that were paying $2 a square foot of grass with no limit, due to the number of applications coming from one type of business.
“The big driver of commercial rebates were golf courses. But public and private golf courses,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District.
The new program will reduce the commercial turf program to $1 a square foot and cap it at $25,000.
“The thinking was we should spread out the funds, and impact tens of thousands of homes across Southern California, not dozens of golf courses,” Kightlinger said.
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