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South Bay Water District Giving Homeowners Incentives to Replace Lawns

SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KPIX) -- The Santa Clara Valley Water District is paying homeowners to remove their lawns and replace it with them with drought-resistant landscaping.

"A lawn requires maintenance and water and does nothing for you," Bob Wells who lives in Morgan Hill.

Three years ago, Bob and his wife Nancy decided to remove their lawn and re-design their landscaping with plants requiring little to no water.

"We'd seen a neighbor do the same thing and we thought it looked really nice. And of course, conserving water was really something valuable," Nancy Wells said.

The Wells took advantage of a rebate program from the water district which provides up to $3,000 to homeowners who install drought-resistant landscaping.

"A traditional green lawn is really ingrained in us, but it's a tradition that we've taken from other parts of the country or other countries where there is a lot more water," said Ashley Shannon, a senior water conservation specialist with the water district.

The Wells' landscaping saves water in three ways. First, the plants themselves require less water. Second, he installed a drip-irrigations system in place of traditional sprinklers. And finally, he installed a specialized water system that monitors weather conditions and adjust according, watering less on rainy and cooler days.

Shannon says each square foot of lawn that's removed saves on average 35 gallons a year. The Wells' lawn which was nearly 800 square feet will help them conserve 28,000 gallons.

"These folks here are going to be a catalyst to neighbors who might be thinking about doing something to their landscaping. Maybe their water bill is increasing to the point where they're saying, 'Wow, this is getting a little bit out of hand," said Santa Clara Valley Water District Director John Varela.

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