California will pay up to $2 per square foot of thirsty lawn replaced with hardy plants that need less water (Muhammad Mahdi Karim/Wikimedia Commons)

Drought-ravaged California will pay people to rip out lawns and old toilets

17 August 2015 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

Households in drought-ravaged California can now get up to $2,000 for digging up their water-guzzling lawns, and $100 for tearing out their inefficient toilets, as the US state struggles through its fourth year of historic water shortages.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced the two new rebate programmes last week to encourage citizens to drastically cut the amount of water they waste.

The “turf and toilet” campaign aims to replace more than 10 million square feet of lawn and upgrade more than 60,000 water-wasting toilets.

DWR will give a $100 rebate to households replacing one old toilet and up to $2 per square foot of thirsty lawn replaced with landscaping featuring hardy plants that need less water.

The turf rebates are targeted at around 10,000 homes, with a focus on disadvantaged communities hardest hit by the drought.

Funding for non-grass alternatives will be capped at $2,000 per household, and people can claim even if the drought has already killed their lawn.

The state has earmarked $24m for the turf replacement scheme, and $6m to flush out wasteful old toilets.

With California facing one of the most severe droughts on record, state Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought State of Emergency in January and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.

Also last week the California Department of Fish and Wildlife took the unprecedented move of evacuating rainbow trout from a fish hatchery at Friant because a lack of incoming fresh water was causing the reservoir to overheat.

The fish were trucked to a nearby lake.

Photograph: California will pay up to $2 per square foot of thirsty lawn replaced with hardy plants that need less water (Muhammad Mahdi Karim/Wikimedia Commons)