Water conservation

Valley Water rebates save water and money – Morgan Hill Times

Homeowners and business owners who want to reduce their outdoor water use and landscaping maintenance should consider starting now or in the spring if they want to install drought-tolerant lawns, conservation experts say.

No matter what time of year one is able to complete such a project, interested homeowners can get discounts from Valley Water, up to $ 3,000 for residential properties and $ 50,000 for properties. businesses, to offset the cost of their new landscaping installation.

Morgan Hill residents Bob and Nancy Wells showed off their drought-tolerant lawn on Calle Sienna at an event on Nov. 16 hosted by Valley Water, the water district that serves Santa Clara County. Since the Wells set up their low-maintenance yard about three years ago, they’ve found it much easier to pull weeds out and keep the landscape from becoming unruly. They also saw local wildlife like hummingbirds and butterflies returning home.

Bob Wells explained how he dug up the house’s old lawn, which was only “non-functional” sod, after taking inspiration from a neighbor who had made a similar lawn conversion. Wells replaced the grass with a layer of sand, weed cloth, and gravel on top.

He and Nancy also installed a number of native and drought-tolerant plants that are on Valley Water’s list of species eligible for reimbursement: yarrow, plumbago, ceanothus (California lilac), lantanas, and Chinese fringe flowers. .

“It’s more beautiful visually, and we can cut flowers and take them inside,” said Bob Wells. “Yarrow dries very well. “

Another big plus: The couple’s water bill went from around $ 110 to $ 95 per month. The installation of a solar-synchronized irrigation controller, for which Wells said Valley Water has offered another discount, is helping that effort. “This saves water at all stations, for everything,” said Bob Wells.

Drought-tolerant lawns and water-saving appliances discounts are among the many incentive programs offered by Valley Water to encourage residents and business owners to limit their water use. Fall is not only one of the best seasons to undertake a new landscaping installation, the county is in the midst of a severe statewide drought that has reduced water supplies and could end. continue until next year or more.

“These programs are very appealing to homeowners as well as business owners,” Valley Water manager John Varela said at the Nov. 16 event at the Wells House. “As a homeowner, over 50% of your daily water consumption is spent on irrigation. That’s a huge amount of water, so the board created the rebate program, which is extremely popular.

Valley water conservation specialist Ashley Shannon said in July the district had increased rebates on drought-tolerant lawns from $ 1 to $ 2 per square foot, up to $ 3,000 per house. The Town of Morgan Hill has agreed to complement the Valley Water program by offering an additional $ 1 per square foot of converted lawn.

Participation in the program has grown exponentially and the water savings can be immense. Shannon said it’s estimated that by switching from a grass lawn to a drought tolerant lawn, homeowners can save about 35 gallons of water per square foot per year.

Since July, Valley Water has seen an increase of about 250% in the number of homeowners seeking discounts on drought-tolerant lawns.

Shannon explained that homeowners should consult with district staff and submit their plans before converting lawns to ensure they meet Valley Water’s criteria for reimbursement. The district’s website for programs includes a list of drought-tolerant plants that homeowners can install for reimbursement.

She added that permeable floor coverings like gravel or wood chip mulch are preferred because they allow irrigation and stormwater to seep into groundwater. Low-flow irrigation systems are one of the criteria for a shed.

Valley Water has a list of qualified landscape contractors, but homeowners can do the work themselves or hire any contractor they want as long as their plans meet installation requirements, Shannon said.

Shannon listed other benefits of converting to a drought tolerant lawn: “You can reduce weekly maintenance – it’s more seasonal (rather than year round) with gardens like this. It cuts down on weeds, chemicals you have to use, and gasoline mowers.

Bob Wells said it was easy to work with Valley Water when he decided to use a shed to set up his drought-tolerant yard. He contacted the Water District, which sent staff to his home to take measurements and photographs.

Wells did the job himself and sent additional photos to Valley Water throughout the installation process. He said he used Microsoft Word to refine a different set of landscape plans he acquired from his neighbor.

“I enjoyed the creative experience. It was pretty fun generating plans, ”said Wells, who is a retired IBM engineer.

The Water District also offers discounts and incentives for other water-saving features, including gray water reuse, rainwater harvesting, and modernization of irrigation equipment. For more information visit valleywater.org/watersavingsorg.

While Valley Water officials are encouraged by the growing popularity of the district’s rebate programs, Varela said he would like to see more participation from the valley’s biggest water users.

“My message to businesses and community managers is that we need to talk more about conservation. And you have to play your role as well as the owners are and be eligible for the rebate, ”Varela said.