Water Department increases grass-removal rebates to $3.50 per square foot

The Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners voted on July 10 to increase the amount of funding that Long Beach residents and businesses are eligible to receive for replacing their grass lawns with drought-tolerant landscapes through the Long Beach Water Department’s Lawn to Garden (L2G) Program.
“More than half of urban water consumption goes to irrigating lawns, so that should be the first place we look to save water,” said Harry Saltzgaver, president of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “The Long Beach Water Department has been a leader in the state and even the nation with its lawn-to-garden conversion program. In this time of great need for water conservation, the Water Commission is pleased to increase the incentive to remove lawns to $3.50 a square foot.”

New applicants to the L2G Program will now receive $3.50 per square foot of grass lawn removed, one of the highest rebates in the state and up from the program’s previous funding level of $3 per square foot, according to the Water Department. The program funds the first 1,000 square feet of lawn removed for each project, meaning that customers who apply for the full incentive amount will receive $3,500 to cover many of the costs associated with removing a grass lawn and installing a drought-tolerant landscape in its place.
“We are ready and willing to give money away to conserve water,” Saltzgaver said. “That’s a win-win for Long Beach residents and businesses.”
Nearly 1,400 Long Beach landscapes have been transformed through the award-winning and nationally recognized program since it began in April 2010. In the process, approximately 1.5 million square feet of water-thirsty grass lawn has been removed. In addition, hundreds of other customers have transformed their landscapes outside of the program.
“This is no longer just some fringe movement,” said Kevin Wattier, general manager for the Long Beach Water Department. “People in every area of the city are really buying into the idea that these types of landscapes make the most sense in our arid environment, whether we’re in a drought or not.”
The Board’s action to increase funding for the L2G program comes in the midst of a worsening statewide drought. Last year was one of the driest years on record in California, which has caused statewide water storage reserves to be drawn down to record low levels. Another dry year could trigger additional citywide water use prohibitions in Long Beach, according to the Water Department.
Funding for the program comes through a partnership between the Long Beach Water Department and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). In addition to residential turf-removal projects, several large-scale projects throughout the city have been completed. Last year, the Army National Guard put its finishing touches on a 53,000-square-feet turf-removal project that replaced a large area of grass on its Redondo Avenue property with California-friendly plants, trees and walking paths.

Source: Water Dept.

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