Everybody understands that California’s water shortage is a serious issue facing the state, but Santa Clara Valley residents may not all realize that our water district has undertaken a great public program to reduce water usage in the county – Save20gallons.org.
Not only is this good news for the environment – it’s great news for Santa Clara Valley Water customers.
Why? Because the program offers fantastic rebates when you follow a handful of steps. They even produced some informative videos to help you get started saving water and money. (Bonus: Look for appearances by our Bayscape Landscape Crew in the “Step 2 – Lawn Removal” video and also in the “Step 4 – Drip Irrigation” video!)
Check out the step-by-step instructions for participating in the Save 20 Gallons rebate program here:
Application Process: The first step will include filling out an application, which SCVW says is a pretty straightforward process. They need some basic customer information and an overview of your project, such as what kind of landscape design you’re doing and the plants you’re considering. There will be a pre-project inspection, and they are always available to walk you through this and any part of the process (including resource lists for accepted plants, irrigation controllers, etc.).
Lawn Removal: According to Bayscape President Tom Ellington, there are two main types of removing an overly thirsty lawn: using a lawn cutter to remove a thin layer of grass and soil, and employing sheet mulch. Lawn cutting is faster, and sheet mulching is more involved but also more economical. Both are effective for reducing weed growth, and eliminating weeds means that the drought-tolerant plants get more of the water meant for them.
Plant Selection: One criteria of the rebate program is that customers must use plants with low or very low water usage. SCVW has a list of qualifying plants. There are lots of good California native plant options, as well as non-native plants that can adapt to and thrive in our Mediterranean climate (dry, hot summers and cool, wet winters). SCVW will require you to have at least 50 percent plant coverage.
Drip Irrigation: To qualify for the rebate program, SCVW requires customers to remove all overhead irrigation. Hand-watering is accepted, though drip irrigation can be an efficient way to reduce water use. Pop-up sprinklers need to be removed (and preferably marked ahead of time with flags). Sometimes functioning/non-leaky valves from overhead irrigation can be salvaged – thus, avoiding digging up all pipelines and throwing out usable materials. In that case, it’s important for a pressure regulator to be installed to the existing valve.
Post-Inspection: The final step in qualifying for the rebate program is the post-inspection, when SCVW will send out interns to make sure that all terms and conditions are met. They’ll measure the site and make sure the appropriate square footage of lawn was removed, as well as check the irrigation system and ensure that there is 50 percent plant coverage and 2-3 inches of mulch where needed (wood bark mulch, gravel much, and cobble all qualify).