Poway California – Considering Rebates for Artificial Turf to Save Water
Saturday, Mar 1, 2008
Council will consider incentives to save water
By Angela Lau
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
February 2, 2008
POWAY – The City in the Country wants to fake its roots to beat the drought.
Instead of lush green blades of real grass, Poway wants homeowners to swap it for . . . artificial turf.
Tuesday, the City Council will consider a program that would offer residents an artificial turf rebate of $1 per square foot as part of a water-saving incentive program.
The city already has declared a first-stage water emergency because of the ongoing drought in the West, and has asked its residents to voluntarily save water.
Now, city officials want to slow the biggest drain on potable water: landscape irrigation, estimated to gulp down 50 percent of Southern California’s supply.
Every 1,000 square feet of imitation grass can save 32,000 gallons of water a year, which works out to an acre-foot of water over a decade, enough to supply two typical Southern California families for one year, water officials said.
That’s not to mention saving money on gardeners and irrigation systems, as well as reducing pollution from fertilizer and pesticides.
“Can I still get that rebate?” said Renate Shein, 71, of Poway, who spent $6,000 on Turf for her 500-square-foot front lawn in October.
Artificial turf rebates
Poway is considering a $1-per-square-foot rebate for artificial turf,
The rationale is to save water and reduce pollution from fertilizer and pesticides.
The Helix Water District in La Mesa, Padre Dam Municipal Water District in Santee, Olivenhain Municipal Water District in Encinitas, Valley Center Municipal Water District and Vista Irrigation District already offer rebates.
Artificial turf costs about $10 a square foot to buy and install.
Sources: San Diego County Water Authority, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
“It’s beautiful. It’s absolutely beautiful,” she said. “It’s a lot of money, but you know something? I don’t have any more maintenance. If you go away, you don’t have to worry about watering the lawn, brown spots, weeds.
“Grass is really a pain.”
Monique Belmares, 39, also of Poway, agreed.
She plunked down $15,000 for 1,500 square feet of artificial turf around the basketball court on her 5-acre property.
“I like it. It’s definitely low-maintenance,” Belmares said. “When you think artificial turf, you think putting greens. These are individual blades.”
If the city offers a rebate, she would consider converting her ¼-acre lawn to the fake stuff. “It’s very expensive,” she said.
Artificial turf costs about $10 per square foot to buy and install, compared with $1 to $3 a square foot for sod and an accompanying irrigation system, said Andy Hui, a conservation programs manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
Despite the high cost, however, the faux grass ranks are growing, in part because of encouragement from water suppliers.
Five water districts in the county are offering rebates as part of a pilot program of the San Diego County Water Authority. They are: the Helix, Olivenhain, Padre Dam and Valley Center water districts, and the Vista Irrigation District.
Helix spokeswoman Kate Breece said 18 families have installed artificial turf since the rebate began last September. District staff members inspect about 20 homes for eligibility every month.
The $1 rebate, which is obtained through participating water districts, is made up of three contributions: 50 cents from the local water districts, 20 cents from the water authority and 30 cents from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, said Mayda Portillo of the water authority.
The rebate is limited to a maximum of 1,000 square feet. Any surface exceeding that would be eligible for a rebate of 30 cents per square foot from the MWD.
Poway likely would follow that formula, said Kristen Crane, the city’s water conservation administrator.
The MWD is hoping to institute a region-wide program that would allow homeowners to apply directly to the district for the 30-cent-per-square-foot rebate by the summer.
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