Do more houses mean plenty of water for those that are here now? photo by Katharine Lotze.
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With an unprecedented amount of rainfall dumped on the Santa Clarita Valley this year it’s no wonder the lineup of people wanting to replace their lawns as a way of conserving water has dwindled.

On Wednesday, members of the Castaic Lake Water Agency’s board are expected to review a report prepared by the agency’s Water Resources and Outreach Committee which details the status of the agency’s lawn replacement program.

“Water conservation program activities are significantly lower than anticipated,” Dirk Marks, the agency’s water resources manager, said in a memo to the board.

“The public’s interest in the Agency’s water conservation programs, particularly turf replacement programs, was reduced due to a shift in attitudes brought about by the media’s focus on El Nino conditions in 2015/16 winter,” he said.

Part of the blame also rests with state water officials who did away with mandatory water conservation targets set for local water retailers in the summer of 2016.

Dirks lays the rest of the blame for dwindling turf-tossing numbers on “a relatively wet beginning of the 2016/17 water year.”

In August 2014, a month into the lawn replacement program, close to 100 Santa Clarita Valley residents were tossing out their lawns and cashing in on a water conservation program that offered them $2 for every square foot of that green expanse that they replaced.

“The Lawn Replacement Program is moving along at a fast place,” Marks told The Signal in August 2014.

On June 30 of that year, through the Lawn Replacement Program, Castaic Lake water officials began offering homeowners $2 for every square foot of lawn they removed from their home, Marks said. Participants stood to receive up to $5,000 per property under the program.

By July 31, 2014, after just one month, at least 25 homeowners swapped their lawns for cash through the program, he said.

And while the boom for turf replacement is over, its success is measured by the square foot.

Board members are expected to see statistics Wednesday that show close to half a million square feet worth of lawn was ripped out across the SCV as a way of conserving water.

They are also expected to see that 631 people signed up for the lawn replacement program since it went into effect in July 2014, and that 364 of those projects were completed.

Total square feet of lawn replaced: 445,524 square feet.

Last year, 22 people signed up for the program and 31 projects were completed.  Total square feet of lawn replaced last year: 29,129.

Numbers have continued to drop steadily since last September, with only 16 people signing up to replace their lawn with drought tolerant landscaping alternatives as of the end of last month.

The good news, however, is that businesses in SCV saw a way to save both money and water through the agency’s lawn replacement program for businesses called – the Large Landscape and Commercial, Industrial and Institutional Turf Removal Program.

Since that program began in July 2014, at least 830,080 square feet of turf has been replaced.

“We sent out mailers letting people know there are still funds available for the program,” Marks told The Signal Tuesday.

 

jholt@signalscv.com

661-287-5527

on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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