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LA's Cash-For-Lawns Program Didn't Actually Save Much Water

City Hall lawn via <a href="">Sterling Davis</a>
City Hall lawn via Sterling Davis

The LADWP's "Cash in Your Lawn" campaign was a wild success by all outward appearances, with a total of $17.8 million dollars handed out to businesses and residents that agreed to tear out their green lawns in favor of more water conservative alternatives. Looks might be deceiving however, as City Controller Ron Galperin has released a report calling the cash for lawn program "largely a gimmick" devised to increase awareness for water conservation (not that that's such a bad goal!). Los Angeles has dramatically reduced its water usage, but 88 percent of that drop came from people who had not participated in any LADWP rebate program. The LADWP annual audit (via CBS LA) found that their financial incentive programs only saved half a gallon of water per person per day last year. Angelenos without financial prompting conserved 22 gallons per person per day in the same time period. Perhaps shorter showers might be a better water-saving method than a lawn rebate gimmick.

But oh what a gimmick it was. The LADWP has released a map of the Los Angeles homeowners who took advantage of the lawn rebates, and the visual of the program's popularity is quite striking. The interactive map allows you to see every cash for lawn rebate the LADWP paid out in the last year, as well as the median income for each neighborhood in the LADWP's jurisdiction. According to the audit, the highest concentration of rebates were given out in the western San Fernando Valley. The Valley may have the Hills beat in the concentration of rebates, but not necessarily in dollar amounts. Clicking randomly around the Brentwood and Bel Air areas reveals some property owners got rebates of nearly $11,000(!).

· DWP Audit Finds 'Cash In Your Lawn' Rebate Program 'Largely A Gimmick' [CBS LA]
· Audit of DWP Customer-Based Water Conservation Programs [LADWP Audit]