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Expanded budget for turf replacement rebates nearly spent

For information on the Landscape Rebate Program, call the Water Conservation Hotline at 408-630-2554.

October 30, 2015

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SAN JOSE—On Oct. 27, 2015, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors allocated an additional $4.6 million to the district’s popular landscape conversion rebate program. Nevertheless, due to the unprecedented interest in the program, the expanded annual budget of $22.8 million is nearly spent for the year. The water district is actively looking for additional funding that can be used to allow the program to continue.

In the meantime, the water district is no longer scheduling pre-inspection visits, the first step in the accessing the rebate program. Applications for the program will be processed in the order in which they are received. After the entire annual budget of $22.8 million is allocated to landscape conversion projects, all other applications will be placed on a waiting list until more funding is available. A new cycle of funding is expected to begin in Fiscal Year 2017, which begins July 1, 2016.

The landscape conversion rebate program has exploded in popularity during California’s extended drought. In 2014, the water district issued rebates to convert more than 1.1 million square feet. In 2015, 2.85 million square feet of turf have already been converted. By comparison, only 160,000 square feet were converted in 2013.

Last April, Governor Brown called for 50 million square feet of turf removal throughout California. We estimate that our current budget will result in more than 8 million square feet of turf removal in our county alone, achieving 16 percent of the governor’s statewide goal.

“This program has been so successful that its annual budget has been expended about 8 months early,” said district board chair Gary Kremen. “We are scouring our budget to find additional funds and we will be bringing this back to the board soon.”

Even though the water district’s annual budget for the program is nearly spent, Chair Kremen encourages residents and businesses to go forward with landscape conversions anyway. “Many folks have let their lawns go brown, which has helped us reach our water use reduction goals. We hope many of them choose to give up their lawns for good, even after this drought is over.”

While the district’s landscape rebate funding is nearly exhausted for the year, the board has authorized funding to support the “Lawn Buster” program through the non-profit organization Our City Forest. This program will replace up to 170,000 square feet of turf for individuals who are low-income, seniors, disabled or veterans or sites that are located in disadvantaged communities.

Expanding the landscape conversion rebate program has been one of the water district’s key responses to the drought. Rebate amounts offered by the district were increased to $2 per square foot, up from $1. Several local municipalities have contributed funds to increase that amount even further in their cities.

Other water conservation programs, such as the free Water Wise House Call program and Laundry-to-Landscape gray water rebate program, are still accepting new requests. Visit for information on all of the district’s water conservation programs.


The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County's 1.9 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.