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City Wants to Turn Water:

As part of its water conservation effort, the City of Santa Monica is once again sponsoring a competitive landscape grant program to encourage home and business owners to convert their traditional landscaping to “California-friendly, climate-compatible landscaping.”

According to City officials, many homes in Santa Monica use more than 200 gallons of water each day for irrigation, with much of it running off into streets, alleys and sidewalks.

Research shows that converting turf, other water-thirsty plants and traditional, high-volume sprinkler systems to plants and irrigation systems that are water-efficient can reduce property owners’ water usage by 80 percent and their maintenance costs by 60 percent.

In addition, water-efficient gardens produce less yard waste, reduce the need for harmful chemicals and polluting maintenance equipment, and provide healthy habitat for birds and insects.

The city’s competitive landscape grants provide partial funding, up to $20,000, for new or remodeled, innovative garden designs which include two or more of the following: California native plants, water-efficient plants, water-efficient irrigation systems, storm-water management systems, graywater systems, and/or other innovative water-saving features.

In addition to increasing the city’s climate-compatible landscape, the grant program also aims to help reduce citywide water use 20 percent by 2010.

Applications for the next round of grants are due March 30, 2006. Applications can be downloaded at www.smepd.org, or call (310) 458-8405 for assistance and information on this and other water efficiency programs.

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