Paso Robles needs more money for its popular cash-for-turf program

Paso Robles’ cash-for-turf rebate program is so popular, the city might not have enough money to cover it through fiscal year 2015-16.

The Paso Robles City Council on Tuesday will consider allotting more money to the program – on top of the $50,000 it already authorized for it in May, according to a staff report.

Participation in the rebate programs has nearly tripled since 2010, according to the report, and additional program funding will be required to keep pace with the demand.

The specific number of rebates issued during that time was not immediately available.

But demand for rebates could continue to increase because of the city’s new outdoor irrigation requirements that began in May. Residents are only allowed to irrigate their yards two days a week instead of three days a week in previous years. That means most of the grass in residential areas will die this summer, city officials have said.

The rebate program encourages outdoor water conservation by paying 50 cents per square foot of turf converted to low-water-use landscaping to a maximum of $500 per water account, according to the city’s water conservation website, http://pasowater.com.

For each 1,000 square feet of turf converted, outdoor water use can be reduced by more than 20,000 gallons per year, according to the report.

That’s important to the city, as new state mandates have pushed Paso Robles to conserve more than it had been over the last several years.

According to California’s new rules, Paso Robles must reduce its water consumption by 19 percent compared to its 2014 usage. The city is on its way to meeting that goal.

City staff is requesting the council to allocate $36,000 from the city’s water fund reserves to increase the total conservation program budget to $157,000 annually.

To qualify for the rebate, those interested must schedule a pre-inspection with the city before any work is done, in addition to other requirements. For more information, call the city at 227-7250.

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