Water department offering rebates, programs to promote drought-tolerant plant use

The Long Beach Water Department (LBWD) will begin accepting applications from Long Beach residents and businesses on April 7 for rebates worth as much as $2,500 for the purpose of replacing water-intensive grass lawns with drought-tolerant landscapes. Customers can find specific information about the program, including eligibility requirements and how to apply by visiting www.lblawntogarden.com.
The Beautiful Long Beach Lawn to Garden Incentive Program will allow pre-approved water customers to apply for the $2.50-per-square-foot rebates, with a set maximum of 1,000 square feet allowed per customer, enough to replace a 20-foot-by-50-foot area of lawn. There is a limited amount of funding for the program, which means applications for the rebates will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. The rebate will help fund a portion of each customer’s project, providing much of the funding for a project if the work is done by the customers themselves.
“The people of Long Beach have been very responsive to our calls to conserve water and make long-lasting changes to their water-use habits,” said Kevin Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department.
“We created this program knowing that our customers are eager to take advantage of opportunities like this. We fully expect that the up-front investment we are making with this program will result in a return many times over as more and more people realize the numerous benefits of utilizing a drought-tolerant landscape.”
The new rebate incentive program was created to build momentum on last year’s landscape-makeover giveaways that provided nine Long Beach homeowners, one in each council district, with a brand new, re-designed drought-tolerant front yard. Due to the success of that program, LBWD has seen a considerable increase in the installation of drought-tolerant landscapes throughout Long Beach.
“Many people have come to view the permanent water reductions affecting southern California with apprehension and uncertainty,” said Matthew Lyons, director of Planning and Conservation for LBWD. “But these reductions have also created an awareness of the value of replacing grass lawns with California-friendly landscapes. These landscapes require less yard maintenance, less fertilizers and pesticides, improve habitats in the upstream environments and in our Long Beach coastal waters, attract wonderful creatures such as hummingbirds and butterflies and, in some cases, provide more person-friendly spaces such as expanded patios and entertaining areas,” said Lyons.
The release of the program comes at an opportune time, as a number of events will be taking place in and around Long Beach over the next few weeks that will offer customers the chance to learn more about
drought-tolerant landscaping and provide opportunities to purchase a wide variety of California-friendly plants.
From March 31 through April 3, the Long Beach City College will be holding its annual plant sale at its Pacific Coast Campus. Many varieties of drought-tolerant plants will be available for purchase.
The following weekend is the seventh annual Theodore Payne native plant garden tour. LBWD is currently offering a two-for-one deal on tickets for this event, with a limit of five free tickets per Long Beach resident. Included in this year’s tour is both a Long Beach apartment complex and single family home. The tour is self-guided and includes 50 examples of single and multi-family residences that have converted over to drought-tolerant landscapes.
“With the Lawn to Garden Incentive program, our goal is to continue to raise awareness in our neighborhoods about a progressive and environmentally responsible style of landscaping,” said Paul Blanco, president of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “The reliability of our imported water sources continues to erode, and we no longer have the option to sit back and hope that Mother Nature will take care of us. We must continue to reduce our outdoor water use, and we believe that providing our customers with these rebates will spur additional interest in beautiful Long Beach landscapes, ultimately leading to long-term water consumption reductions in our city.”

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