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Arroyo Grande brings back ‘Cash for Grass’ rebate program

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Posted at 11:41 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 02:54:46-04

After San Luis Obispo County declared a local drought emergency Tuesday, cities began implementing their own water conservation measures.

To help offset the stress placed on limited water resources, the city of Arroyo Grande has implemented a water-saving rebate program to incentivize residents to take their green lawns out.

Arroyo Grande utilities manager said, “Turf is not the best way to go for your landscape. It’s just not as sustainable in this area.”

The city of Arroyo Grande first started the ‘Cash for Grass’ program during a severe drought from 2009 to 2015. The program encouraged hundreds of Arroyo Grande residents to take out their green lawns in exchange for water-efficient landscape.

“Those first six years we did almost 13 acres of conversion and 421 sites. And we’re saving about 10 million gallons a year because of it, “ said Taylor.

Each year, more than 50-percent of Arroyo Grande’s water is used for landscaping.

Now, there’s a $200,000 budget to bring the ‘Cash for Grass’ rebate program back.

On a first-come, first-serve basis, the city is offering $1 per square foot of turf removed with a minimum of 500 square feet and a maximum of 5,000 square feet. Conversions must be done within 6 months.

“I would 100% be open to applying for it. Water is very expensive and it’s very limited right now in the drought,” said Arroyo Grande resident Julia Vasquez.

People are replacing their lawns with synthetic grass, decorative rock and mulch to conserve water.

Mier Brothers Landscape Products in Arroyo Grande has seen a consistent increase in demand for synthetic grass in the last ten years.

“Synthetic turf grass is one of the few things that I know that pays you back. Not only are you conserving water, but you’re saving money on maintenance,” said Kevin Rickson, Mier Brothers Landscape Products manager.

Rickson says if installed properly, synthetic grass should last 20 to 25 years.

Conservation measures like these will help reduce water usage in one of the driest years we’ve seen.

“Just be conscious of water and treat it as a precious resource,” Taylor added.

The city of Arroyo Grande has other water conservation programs too, like the Washing Machine Rebate and Plumbing Retrofit program.