MWD board approves nation's largest water conservation program amid drought
The board of directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California approved the nation's largest turf removal and water conservation program, expected to generate enough water savings to nearly fill Diamond Valley Lake over the next 10 years.
LOS ANGELES, CA, May 28, 2015 -- Amid ongoing drought, the board of directors for the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California recently approved the nation's largest turf removal and water conservation program that is expected to generate enough water savings to nearly fill the region's largest reservoir -- Diamond Valley Lake -- over the next 10 years.
The significant expansion of the turf removal component is expected to remove about 175 million square feet of lawn -- more than triple Governor Jerry Brown's goal for the entire state. The conversion is projected to save about 80 million gallons of water per day for Southern California, or enough water for 160,000 households.
At a special meeting, MWD's board added $350 million to the District's conservation budget to a new total of $450 million over two years. Together with local rebate programs of more than $50 million, the total regional investment will be more than half a billion dollars, and using existing revenues will be done without impacting water rates.
Along with the conservation budget increase, MWD's board also modified the agency's turf removal program to ensure that rebates continue to be available to homeowners, businesses and public agencies throughout the Southland during the drought. Program changes establish rebate tiers based on the amount of turf being removed, with the intent of reaching as many residents and businesses as possible.
With the extraordinary level of public awareness and participation, MWD has paid out more than $88 million of the $100 million in its previous conservation budget. However, public interest in water-saving rebates, primarily turf removal incentives, continues to set records. Earlier this month, the District reached a new weekly record of $49 million for conservation rebate reservations.
MWD's turf removal program currently has requests for more than 100 million square feet, the equivalent of about 60,000 front yards. Since Brown's April 1 executive order to reduce statewide residential water use by 25 percent, monthly applications have increased 20-fold to up to 10,000 applications.