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California Drought: Cash For Grass Expands In Sacramento County

Ed Joyce / Capital Public Radio

Sprinklers water a lawn in Carmichael.

Ed Joyce / Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento Suburban Water District has adopted new outdoor watering restrictions that started Thursday.

The district is required to reduce its water use by 32 percent under a statewide mandate from the California State Water Resources Control Board.

The district service area includes parts of Sacramento, Arden Arcade, Carmichael and Citrus Heights.

Outdoor watering is now reduced to two days a week based on an odd-even address system. Addresses ending in an odd number water on Tuesday and Saturday. Addresses ending in an even number water on Sunday and Wednesday. 

The district's 175,000 customers are only allowed to water before noon or after 8 p.m. on the designated watering days.

Water District Assistant General Manager Dan York said rebates for customers include cash for grass.

"And it's 50-cents per square foot up to a thousand dollars," said York. "And what we're going to ask our customers, that are approved for this program, to do is basically to let their grass die until probably about September or October." 

York said the grass would then be removed and replaced with drought-tolerant plants.

He said at a typical home, most water use goes to watering lawns and outdoor landscaping. York says about 30 percent of that is lost to overwatering and evaporation. 

Sacramento Suburban Water District Rebates:

  • Turf Replacement ("Cash for Grass") 50 cents per square foot (up to $1,000) for replacing thirsty lawn with low-water use plants.
  • Irrigation Efficiency Upgrades (up to $300) for replacing existing spray sprinklers with more efficient rotary nozzles and drip irrigation systems.
  • Pool Covers (up to $100), which can reduce evaporation from pools by up to 95 percent.
  • Rain Sensors (up to $100) to automatically turn off sprinkler systems during rain. 
  • Recirculating Hot Water Pumps (up to $150) to deliver hot water on demand.
  • WaterSense-Labeled Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers (up to $100) to install a "smart" sprinkler controller that adjusts watering schedules according to the weather.

Roseville and Folsom are other Sacramento County areas where "cash for grass" rebates have been rolled out as a way to increase water conservation.