Earth Log

Earth Log: Los Angeles' cash-for-grass program wiping out lawns

Los Angeles has long been paying cash for grass -- you know, lawns.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power pays people money to replace their grass with water-stingy plants and water-wise landscaping. 

For many around the state, water is not a good-news story for Southern California, which has been widely criticized for actually increasing water use this summer.

And the region has long been a bad guy for its infamous water grab from the Owens Valley decades ago. That story continues to make headlines occasionally.

But this cash-for-grass program also is worth a headline in the midst of California's drought. It might be worth considering in other parts of the state, maybe even the San Joaquin Valley.

The LADWP delivers about 600 million gallons of drinking water daily in the city of Los Angeles. Half of it is used for watering outdoors, the agency said. 

Since the department started the program in 2009, more than 8 million square feet of turf have been replaced, resulting in a savings of 250 million gallons of water.

In June, the payment was increased from $2 per square foot to $3. Residents can get up to $6,000 to replace their grass. That sounds tempting.