Summer may be over, but drought conditions that persist around the country, combined with suburban growth in arid regions of the Southwest and West, continue to keep water conservation on everyone’s mind.
So it’s not surprising that cities and water conservation districts continue to pay homeowners, businesses and even schools to “go synthetic.” In some areas, however, the demand for rebates to property owners who tear out existing natural turf and replace it with artificial lawns, such as NewGrass, was so high that their water agencies have run out of money for the programs.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority has cited turf replacement as a key element of a long-range plan to heighten local conservation efforts. The water authority – the region’s wholesale water supplier – is also expected to make most of its existing drought restrictions permanent. These include prohibiting front lawns and limiting the size of back lawns for new homes.
Earlier this year, for the first time in its history, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southland, implemented two consecutive years of mandatory water supply reductions. Continuing environmental restrictions in the district’s Northern California supply are were cited for perpetuating shortage conditions and driving costs higher.
Despite the water use restrictions in Southern California, SoCal WaterSmart program on June 1 discontinued offering rebates for synthetic turf installation after two years.
The Soquel Water District, which services serves more than 49,000 customers in mid-Santa Cruz County, Calif., offers rebates to residential and commercial customers who replace existing high-water-use turf grass with low-water landscaping or synthetic turf. The rebate is $1 per square foot up to $1,000 for a single-family home and up to $3,000 for commercial and multi-family housing landscapes.
In Albuquerque, N.M., the city water commission offers as much as $500 to residents who convert even part their lawn to landscaping that needs little water or to artificial grass.
Arizona is entering its second decade of a statewide drought from a lack of long-term precipitation and increased demand for water, and state water officials have asked residents, businesses, schools, institutions of higher learning, local governments and federal agencies to increase their water conservation efforts.
Tempe, Ariz., now in its 10th year of drought, pays homeowners to remove grass and plant cactus. Along with paying homeowners up to $500 each to remove grass, Tempe offers grants up to $20,000 to businesses that reduce water consumption by at least 15 percent.
Several Arizona cities offer other rebates to homeowners who replace their lawns with artificial grass:
• Peoria: up to $550
• Mesa: $50 – $225
• Scottsdale: up to $1,500 for residential customers, $3,000 for commercial properties
• Glendale: up to $750
For details on other Arizona participating cities visit the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association’s Web site.