An increasing number of water districts and cities are seeing the benefits of NewGrass™ and other synthetic lawns as a viable, proven water conservation measure.

In California, the Soquel Creek Water District, which serves 49,000 customers within mid-Santa Cruz County, recently began offering rebates to residents who replace their natural turf lawns with artificial grass.

The district noted in publicizing the effort that “making the switch to faux turf can save thousands of gallons of water every month.”

The agency recently began offering customers a rebate of $1 per square foot of synthetic grass, up to $300. The rebate will be in the form a credit on a customer’s water bill after their installation is inspected and approved.

To battle misunderstandings of synthetic grass, the district laid down a sample plot bordered by native plants at its district offers as part of two hands-on workshops in 2005.

Las Vegas Expanding Current Program
The Souhern Nevada Water Authority recently re-launched its Water Efficient Technologies (WET) program with more flexible rules and bigger rebates. The program is aimed at enticing more businesses and government entities to improve their water efficiency.

The cap on any entity’s total incentive was tripled, from $50,000 to $150,000. Since participants are paid based on how much water they conserve, tripling the cap could also triple the amount of water saved, Doug Bennett, the authority’s conservation manager, told local news media.

As of August, the authority said WET had paid out almost $590,000 in incentives to 22 businesses and government entities. Combined, those 22 customers have saved more than 268 million gallons of water annually.

WET offers a one-time financial incentive to customers who replace older, less efficient water systems and cut their water use by at least 500,000 gallons a year. Participants can use just about any method of improving efficiency, including the use of artificial grass, like NewGrass™.

The agency said that even with the new rules, WET is unlikely to approach the level of success seen by the water authority’s best-known conservation initiative, the turf rebate program.

Since 1999, that program has paid residents and business owners specifically to replace their lawns with desert landscaping and is credited with eliminating more than 72 million square feet of water-guzzling turf grass in the Las Vegas Valley.

The rebate program reported reaching two milestones this year: It exceeded 20,000 landscape conversions and pushed its annual water savings past 4 billion gallons.

Two Other California Districts Move Ahead
Back in California, a water district in the High Desert region of San Bernardino County recently began offering customers rebates of 40 cents for every square foot of natural turf that they replace with low-water-use, desert friendly landscaping – which can include products like NewGrass™. Eligible projects in the Victor Valley Water District’s Cash-for-Grass Program must be at least 1,000 square feet, which means a rebate of at least $400 per customer.

“With the unprecedented growth the High Desert has experienced, many new homeowners do not know that approximately 70 percent of their water usage is for outdoor landscaping and water uses,’’ the district’s Web site explains. “While many homeowners and business owners enjoy the look of a lush, green lawn, they find that our desert climate makes maintaining such a yard costly and time consuming.”

Water officials in Central Orange County, California, recently reported the results of a trail “Turf Replacement Project.” The Irvine Ranch Water District and the cities of Irvine, Lake Forest, Newport Beach and Tustin installed about six acres of synthetic lawn like NewGrass™ in six public parks.

The idea was to see how much water could be saved using synthetic grass and also raise public awareness of the “new generation” of synthetic lawns.

After three months, the study determined that the 7,837 square feet of artificial grass would save an estimated 149,917 gallons for water annually, or about 2.56 acre feet a year.

The installations also were well-received by the public. The district said the program generated calls from residents for information about synthetic lawn rebate programs and about the product in general, a report on the project said.

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