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As summer temperatures continue to climb, drought conditions persist around the country, and suburban growth in arid regions of the Southwest and West continues, water conservation is increasingly on everyone’s mind.

It’s not surprising that an increasing number of cities and water conservation districts are paying homeowners, businesses and even schools to “go synthetic.” Many are offering rebates for property owners who tear out existing natural turf and replace it with artificial lawns, such as NewGrass™.

Depending on the location and climate, studies show that homeowners and some businesses use between 50 percent and 70 percent of their water on their natural grass and gardening.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority recently 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.

One obvious choice for new-home buyers is NewGrass™ or similar synthetic lawns. One of the key advantages of products like NewGrass™ is that they require no watering at all.

The water authority currently offers rebates to residents and business owners who tear up their turf and replace it with desert landscaping. Officials hope to increase participation in the program by lifting the $300,000 cap on rebates for individual properties, which means it would be more attractive to golf courses and similar large facilities.

The agency also is debating offering a $1 rebate for every square foot of turf removed. The current program pays $1 per square foot for the first 50,000 square feet and 50 cents per square foot after that.

A special incentive program will be designed to get schools and other government buildings to take out any grass.

More Cities Pay Property Owners to Use Synthetic Grass

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.

Las Vegas, Nev., and Mesa, Ariz., have similar programs.

“For people who really just want to see green, artificial grass is an alternative,” says Jean Witherspoon, an Albuquerque water-conservation officer, told the Wall Street Journal in a related article.

The North Marin (California) Water District has paid high schools $15,000 an acre to switch from natural to synthetic surfaces. The district also limits the size of combined natural turf and swimming pools in new homes to 5,000 square feet, and encourages plants over turf grass. Reno, Nev., in 2003 started paying homeowners willing to remove grass from their yards $1 per square foot. The program paid out $13 million in its first seven months.

Tempe, now in its ninth year of drought, also pays homeowners to remove grass and plant cactus. Along with paying homeowners $100 each to remove grass, Tempe offers grants up to $20,000 to businesses that reduce water consumption by at least 15 percent.

NewGrass™ is the registered trademark for one in the new generation of artificial grasses. It is primarily used as a no-watering, maintenance-free, natural-looking alternative to natural grasses in home and commercial landscaping.

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