LB Has Most Successful Turf Removal Program in the State

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Long Beach residents have now eliminated nearly 500,000 square feet of grass from their front yards through the Lawn to Garden Program.

The City of Long Beach celebrated today a new milestone for its popular turf removal program.  Five hundred Long Beach homeowners have now completed Lawn to Garden projects, in which grass lawns are replaced with drought tolerant, California Friendly landscapes.

“California needs to find innovative solutions for stretching our limited water supplies,” said Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, who represents the City of Long Beach in California’s 54th Assembly District.  “The Long Beach Lawn to Garden Program is helping accomplish that one landscape at a time, which not only benefits the City of Long Beach, but also the entire Southern California region,” added Assemblywoman Lowenthal.

The program, which was introduced last April, allows Long Beach residents to apply for rebates worth $2.50 per square foot of turf removed, with a set maximum of 1,000 square feet allowed per customer, or $2,500 total.  Over 1,100 Long Beach property owners have now applied for the rebates since they were first made available.  According to the Long Beach Water Department, the program will remain open to future applicants for the foreseeable future. 

Jessica Hardy, a Team USA swimmer from Long Beach who is trying out for the 2012 Summer Olympics and who also advocates for water conservation programs in her spare time, believes the Lawn to Garden Program will help residents form closer bonds with each other.

“Growing up in Long Beach, my family always had good relationships with our neighbors,” said Hardy.  “I think a program like this will get more people outside and interacting with each other, which will go a long way toward fostering a closer sense of community,” added Hardy.

While the Long Beach Water Department provides the majority of the funding for the rebate program, 40 percent of the total funds are provided through a partnership with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

“We are very thankful for the partnership that exists between the City of Long Beach and MWD in funding this much needed water conservation program,” stated Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal, who also serves as the Long Beach representative on the MWD Board of Directors.  “With their financial assistance, we are able to fund nearly double the number of landscape projects that we would otherwise be able to do,” added Vice Mayor Lowenthal.

Almost 500,000 square feet (approximately 11 acres) of grass lawn has now been removed through the program, which can be visualized as taking eleven football fields, placing them side by side and then removing the grass from all of them.

“We are excited that 500 Long Beach landscapes have now been converted from grass lawns into Beautiful Long Beach gardens,” said Frank Clarke, President of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners.  “These landscapes will improve the reliability of our water supplies, save energy, reduce the amount of polluted urban runoff that ends up in the ocean and beautify our neighborhoods,” added President Clarke.

Annually, grass lawns require more than six times the amount of water as do drought tolerant landscapes, meaning that as additional Long Beach homes convert to drought tolerant landscapes, long-term water savings will also increase.

“I believe we are just starting to hit our stride with this program” said Kevin Wattier, General Manager for the Long Beach Water Department.  “At this time, one new landscape is being finished each day and I think it’s quite possible that we will see the rate of completion accelerate as more and more residents realize the many benefits that can be achieved by installing these types of yards,” added Wattier.

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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