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Cash for Grass: Front Range cities offering rebates for 'water-wise' landscaping

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 19:50:41-04

THORNTON, Colo. -- Cities across the front range have started offering rebates to homeowners who choose to remove grass or turf from their lawns and replace it with a more water-use-friendly option.

“It’s a dollar per square foot,” Thornton homeowner Alisa Hake said.

Hake is one of more than a dozen residents who have chosen to take part in the “water-wise landscaping rebate.” She changed over 1,900-square feet of back yard turf into a xeriscape garden of stones, mulch, and low-water plants.

“We should get the maximum rebate, which is a thousand dollars,” Hake said.

“It’s cash for grass,” Thornton’s water resource manager Emily Hunt said.

Hunt explained that the city is looking to manage water in the most efficient way possible. The “water-wise” rebate is one of several the city is offering to residents.

“That reduces the burden on city in terms of what we need to treat through our treatment plants,” she explained. “It also reduces how much water we have to supply.”

Thornton is one of several municipalities along the Front Range doing something similar, including Aurora, Centennial, Fort Collins, and Lafayette. Denver does not have a program at the moment.

“The more we can move some of that discretionary uses (of water) to protect critical uses, that helps us in times of drought and it also helps us as we see the aridification of Colorado,” Hunt said.

Last year, Hunt says ten customers converted 8,500-square feet of turf, saving an estimated 120,000 gallons of water. This year, 13 people are taking part in the program. Hake is one of them.

“We had a like, 600 gallon reduction,” she said, referring to her latest water bill. “We will continue to see a reduction as time goes on.”