Thursday, July 23, 2009

Water - Showing the money

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has won its bet that it could reduce the amount of water use with rebates, even in formerly booming Las Vegas.

The authority’s Web site explains its rather extreme Water Smart Landscapes Rebate program.

Basically they pay people to rip out their lawns and replace them with desert landscaping. For every square foot of grass removed, customers get $1.50 up to 5,000 square feet. Every square foot of conversion saves 55 gallons of water a year, according to the authority. The price goes down to $1 per foot after 5,000 square feet with a maximum payment of $300,000 per property.

They offer landscape designs to help out and a list of Water Smart contractors to do the work if you just can’t bear to do the deed.

In the 10 years the program has run, they claim 130 million square feet of grass have bitten the dust, saving billions of gallons of water. Just in Las Vegas, turning yards back into the desert they started as has reduced water use by 18 percent from 2002 to 2007, a boom time of population growth for the city.

So it can be done, but think of all the tears that would be shed for the immaculate fescue and bluegrass lawns in Amarillo turned back into prairie. And do you think the “our-tax-rate-is-so-low” city commission would foot the bill? (The Nevadans have spent $138 million in 10 years). But our commissioners did get a start with the new rebate program for sensors to keep people from watering when the temperature’s near freezing or better yet when it’s raining.

And yet there are others who are adopting programs that reward yard exterminators like Los Angeles, several communities around San Francisco Bay and Mesa, Ariz.

The Nevadans even have an art contest to teach kids what their parents should embrace. Here's one called "Where's my water gone?"

Poor little goat. At least I think it's a goat.

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