The board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District will consider a proposal next week to add $350 million to its budget to provide rebates and incentives for Southland residents to remove water-guzzling turf and install low-water-use fixtures.
If the board approves the increase, it would bring the MWD’s two-year conservation budget to $450 million.
According to an MWD staff report, there has been an “unprecedented increase in additional requests for turf-removal projects” since Gov. Jerry Brown called for 25 percent reduction in water use across the state. In the three weeks following Brown’s order, turf-removal requests increased above $10 million, including between 2,500 and 3,000 residential removal requests per week.
“In the recent two weeks, additional requests for turf removal more than tripled to above $32.8 million for the week ending on May 3 and more than quadrupled to $48.2 (million) for the week ending on May 10,” according to the MWD report.
MWD staff also noted that rebate requests have also been “robust” for installation of water-saving devices. Through May 17, the agency has paid $24.7 million for rebates 2014-15.
Last month, the MWD board ordered a 15 percent cut in the amount of water it supplies to its 26 member agencies across Southern California. It was only the fourth time in the agency’s history that it has taken such an action.
The amount of the cut to each city or agency is based on their reliance on MWD supplies, while also taking into consideration conservation actions already being implemented. Cities and agencies that use more than their MWD allocation would have to pay punitive costs ranging from $1,480 to $2,960 per acre-foot of water. An acre-foot is roughly the amount of water needed to serve two households for a year.