Another indicator of a down economy: Rebates from water districts, encouragements for homeowners to install synthetic grass, are starting to dry up.
Some desert areas, such as Las Vegas and Scottsdale, Arizona, continue to offer residential customers incentives to replace (or not plant) natural grass in favor of artificial turf. In Las Vegas, residents who install water-wise landscaping such as synthetic grass receive $1.50 per square foot, with a limit of 5,000 square feet. In Scottsdale, the rebate is a maximum 50 cents per square foot. Some cities in the Coachella Valley Water District’s service area can receive $2.00 per square foot. And in other communities in the West, water-saving rebates can be had for installing waterless turf.
However, many water providers have discontinued their rebates since the high-water mark of 2009, when most residents in Southern California were eligible for H2O-saving rebates of 75 cents or more per square foot for installing artificial turf. The city of Riverside is an exception, still promoting $1.00 per square foot incentives; most municipalities have retracted rebate programs. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a consortium of 26 agencies that once was a big backer of water-saving rebates for synthetic grass, now leaves those to the discretion of individual suppliers.
And most of those suppliers are not offering artificial grass rebates, because they are no longer being subsidized by the likes of the MWD or state governments – their allocated budgets were often depleted rebate programs proved more popular than anticipated. (However, MWD’s SoCal Water $mart rebates for installing water-conservation items as clothes washers, toilets, irrigation controllers and nozzles remain in effect, and a “Residential Turf Grass Removal Rebate” that excludes synthetic grass installation is also offered.)
In 2006, the city of Palm Springs sponsored a $4.00/square foot rebate for residential synthetic grass swaps, making installation much more affordable. Today there is no incentive. “That doesn’t mean the water companies don’t acknowledge that installing artificial turf saves a lot of water – it does,” said Dave Koller, conservation coordinator for Coachella Valley. Since the Southern Nevada Water Authority began rebates in 2002, it estimates 10 billion gallons water that would have gone to irrigate lawns have been saved by the replace-natural-grass program.
To learn if synthetic grass rebates are available in your area, contact your water provider.