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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LB Water Department Sees Strong Demand for Landscape Rebate Program

Single-family home rebates completely allocated within 45 minutes of opening application system

LONG BEACH, CA – On April 7th, at 8 AM, the Long Beach Water Department began accepting applications from Long Beach residents and businesses for rebates of up to $2,500 to help fund the replacement of grass lawns with California Friendly landscapes.


By 9 AM, the rebates had all been spoken for.

“We are very pleased with the great response we have received from our customers for this program,” said Matthew Lyons, Director of Planning and Conservation for the Long Beach Water Department. “People are really starting to recognize that California Friendly landscapes not only conserve water, but offer a host of other benefits. They require less maintenance, use less fertilizer and pesticides, decrease the impact on both upstream and downstream environments and create valuable animal habitats and personal outdoor living spaces.”

For those customers who were quick enough to get in their applications before funding ran out, they will have the opportunity to receive rebates to replace up to 1,000 square feet of grass lawn in their front yards. Successful applicants must comply with a set list of requirements, which includes taking an online course and getting rid of any existing inefficient irrigation systems, among others.

The Water Department stopped accepting applications for the program on Monday of this week. Due to the overwhelming response, many applicants were sent letters notifying them that they had been placed on a ranked wait list, which indicated their number in line. The letter explained that applicants will be pulled from the wait list if funding becomes available for their projects.

Kevin Wattier, General Manager of the Long Beach Water Department, had some additional good news for waitlisted applicants who may be worried about whether or not they will eventually receive funds to re-landscape their lawns.

“Now that we know there is considerable demand for this program, we are expecting to fund a second round of rebates in the fall,” said Mr. Wattier. “I encourage those of you on the wait list to continue to wait until the fall, if possible, because there is a good chance that many of your projects will eventually be funded.”

Although the program limits the square footage for each applicant’s landscape eligible for the rebate to 1,000 square feet, the average area applied for by applicants was slightly more than 800 sq. ft., meaning that well over 100 customers will receive rebates in this first round of funding.

The Water Department estimates that by switching from grass lawns to California Friendly gardens, these properties have the potential to save a combined 40 million gallons of water over the next ten years.

“Every gallon of water we save through this program is another gallon of expensive imported water that we no longer have to purchase,” said Paul Blanco, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “As more of our customers switch over to drought-tolerant landscapes, we anticipate seeing a continued, steady decrease in water consumption in Long Beach.”

Current applicants and other interested customers can continue to read about the rebate program and California Friendly landscaping in general, by visiting www.lblawntogarden.com.

The Long Beach Water Department is an urban, southern California, retail water supply agency and the standard in water conservation and environmental stewardship.



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Long Beach Water Department Unveils Citywide Landscape Rebate Program

More than 100 successful applicants will receive up to $2,500 to replace grass lawns with California Friendly Landscaping

LONG BEACH, CA – On April 7th, the Long Beach Water Department will begin accepting applications from Long Beach residents and businesses for rebates worth as much as $2,500 for the purpose of replacing water-intensive grass lawns with drought-tolerant landscapes. Customers can find specific information about the program, including eligibility requirements and how to apply by visiting www.lblawntogarden.com.




The Beautiful Long Beach Lawn to Garden Incentive Program will allow pre-approved water customers to apply for the $2.50 per square foot rebates, with a set maximum of 1,000 square feet allowed per customer, enough to replace a 20 foot by 50 foot area of lawn. There is a limited amount of funding for the program, which means applications for the rebates will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. The rebate will help fund a portion of each customer’s project, providing much of the funding for a project if the work is done by the customers themselves.



“The people of Long Beach have been very responsive to our calls to conserve water and make long-lasting changes to their water use habits,” said Kevin Wattier, General Manager of the Long Beach Water Department. “We created this program knowing that our customers are eager to take advantage of opportunities like this. We fully expect that the upfront investment we are making with this program will result in a return many times over as more and more people realize the numerous benefits of utilizing a drought-tolerant landscape.”



The new rebate incentive program was created to build momentum on last year’s landscape makeover giveaways that provided nine Long Beach homeowners, one in each council district, with a brand new, re-designed drought-tolerant front yard. Due to the success of that program, the Water Department has seen a considerable increase in the installation of drought-tolerant landscapes throughout Long Beach.



“Many people have come to view the permanent water reductions affecting southern California with apprehension and uncertainty,” said Matthew Lyons, Director of Planning and Conservation for the Long Beach Water Department. “But these reductions have also created an awareness of the value of replacing grass lawns with California friendly landscapes. These landscapes require less yard maintenance, less fertilizers and pesticides, improve habitats in the upstream environments and in our Long Beach coastal waters, attract wonderful creatures such as hummingbirds and butterflies and, in some cases, provide more person-friendly spaces such as expanded patios and entertaining areas,” added Mr. Lyons.



The release of the program comes at an opportune time, as a number of events will be taking place in and around Long Beach over the next few weeks that will offer customers the chance to learn more about drought-tolerant landscaping and provide opportunities to purchase a wide variety of California Friendly plants.



From March 31 through April 3, the Long Beach City College will be holding its annual plant sale at its Pacific Coast Campus. Many varieties of drought-tolerant plants will be available for purchase.



The following weekend (April 10th and 11th) is the seventh annual Theodore Payne native plant garden tour. The Long Beach Water Department is currently offering a 2-for-1 deal on tickets for this event, with a limit of five free tickets per Long Beach resident. Included in this year’s tour is both a Long Beach apartment complex and single family home. The tour is self-guided and includes 50 examples of single and multi-family residences that have converted over to drought-tolerant landscapes.



Here is a summary of the upcoming drought-tolerant garden related events and programs:



March 31 – April 3: LBCC Annual Plant Sale – Pacific Coast Campus

April 7: Applications accepted for LBWD Lawn to Garden Incentive Program

April 10 – 11: Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour (2 for 1 deal through LBWD)

April 17: Free LBWD Landscape class

April 24: Earth Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific



“With the Lawn to Garden Incentive program, our goal is to continue to raise awareness in our neighborhoods about a progressive and environmentally responsible style of landscaping,” said Paul Blanco, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “The reliability of our imported water sources continues to erode and we no longer have the option to sit back and hope that Mother Nature will take care of us. We must continue to reduce our outdoor water use, and we believe that providing our customers with these rebates will spur additional interest in Beautiful Long Beach Landscapes, ultimately leading to long-term water consumption reductions in our City.”



The Long Beach Water Department is an urban, southern California, retail water supply agency and the standard in water conservation and environmental stewardship.



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