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Rich, Water-Hungry Rancho Santa Fe Residents Got the Most Free Money to Rip Out Their Lawns

The Metropolitan Water District's "cash for grass" program, which offered rebates for homeowners who took out their drought-unfriendly lawns, ran entirely through its $340-million budget in only about a year. Taking the biggest chunks out of that allotment were five residential customers who live in wealthy Rancho Santa Fe, near San Diego, where people use about five times the amount of water per capita as the average Californian does. The LA Times reports that five households in the community received rebates that amounted to $288,000.

Those five biggest rebates were between about $48,000 and $70,000. ("Grants issued early in the [MWD's rebate] program had no caps"; a $6,000 cap wasn't tacked on until late May.) The Rancho Santa Fe homeowner who rounded out the top five used his $47,800 grant to pull up 24,000 square feet of lawn and re-landscape it with mulch and plants that require less water. The money from MWD covered about half the cost of the project, he said, but caused his monthly water bill to drop from an incredible $1,200 to just "a couple hundred dollars."

Though some Rancho Santa Feans are totally comfortable with their excessive water guzzling, the community as a whole seems to have made an effort to cut back. Their water consumption dropped by 42 percent in May and 37 percent in June from their 2013 usage, and they collectively ripped out 373,000 square feet of lawn using incentives from the MWD.
· Wealthy city big winner in drought lawn rebate program [LAT]
· Rich SoCal Water-Wasters Throwing Big Baby Tantrum About Drought Cutbacks [Curbed LA]