As the great California mega-drought drags on into its fourth year and cities across the state prepare to drastically slash their summer water consumption, the state has offered to pay residents to rip up their lawns.
The popular cash for grass program got a boost Tuesday when the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to add additional funds to the program, totaling $450 million, according to ABC News.
The program pays residents to remove their water-hungry lawns and replace them with native, drought-tolerant landscaping.
There’s no shortage of residents lining up to take advantage of the state’s offer, especially after Gov. Jerry Brown issued his decree for towns to cut their water consumption.
The program was so popular it exhausted its original $100 million funding.
During the summer months, residents use considerably more water on their lush green lawns than during the winter. Usually, 50 percent to 80 percent of residential consumption goes towards lawn care.
Removing one square foot of grass can save the state 42 gallons of water a year, according to WMD estimates, which is what makes the cash for grass program so important.
The number of residents trying to cash in on their grass has ballooned to 3,000 a week, which would total $330 million if they were all approved.
The board is paying $2 a square foot, up to $6,000 per residence.
The water board also cut rebates for commercial properties to $1 per square foot with a $25,000 maximum, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The MWD provides water to about 19 million people.
Not everyone agrees with the program, however.
San Diego Water Authority member Keith Lewinger told the Los Angeles Times it was impossible for the state to buy its way out of the drought.
Meanwhile, other agencies think the WMD’s program is pure genius, and are seeking to build on the program’s success. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have offered their residents an additional $1.75 per square foot to remove their lawn.
The move to expand the cash for grass program comes days after the city of Fremont, in northern California, lost 50 million gallons of drinkable water when one of its dams was destroyed.
Vandals damaged a rubber inflatable dam that diverted water to a local reservoir and allowed the water to run down the Alameda Creek to the ocean, where it was lost, according to the Inquisitr.
Check out these water saving tips to help your community survive the drought.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]