Turf Replacement Program Impacts on Households and Ratepayers: An Analysis for the City of Los Angeles

Turf Replacement Program Impacts on Households and Ratepayers: An Analysis for the City of Los Angeles

Kelsey Jessup, J.R. DeShazo, and Ali Panjwani

Ongoing severe drought and climate change continue to strain the Los Angeles region’s water supply and have forced the City to institute water savings goals (Garcetti, 2014). Turf replacement programs, which aim to encourage residents to replace their lawn with less water intensive landscaping, may offer benefits as part of a larger package of conservation measures. More than half of residential water use is allocated for outdoor watering (approximately 54%) (Firestone, 2015). Outdoor water use is typically considered discretionary while indoor water use is generally considered essential, making outdoor water use a good target for conservation efforts. In order to encourage turf replacement, the city launched a turf replacement program in 2009. Commercial and residential customers can receive a rebate from the utility when they replace their lawns with less water intensive landscaping. Currently, the city is offering a rebate of $1.75 per sq. ft. up to 1,500 sq. ft.

This report seeks to answer two questions regarding the turf replacement program. First, under what conditions does participation in the turf replacement program provide financial benefits to households? Second, is the turf replacement program a reasonably cost effective investment for utilities and ratepayers?

For questions about this report, contact Kelsey Jessup at kjessup@luskin.ucla.edu