Los Angeles is first city in state to require rainwater capture, living soil for turf rebate program

August 16 2016

August 16, 2016 – The governing board of the largest water utility in the country, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), voted 3-2 to change its turf rebate guidelines to require capture of rainwater, build healthy, living soil, and use climate-appropriate plants. These three elements make up what is called the “watershed approach.” Los Angeles is now the first city in the state to require the watershed approach for a landscape rebate program. The Board also changed the requirements to not allow a rebate for artificial turf, joining a growing number of other cities and water agencies.

These new requirements will help meet multiple goals of the L.A. Mayor’s environmental plan such as preventing polluted runoff, meeting 50% of the water needs with local supply, and reducing greenhouse gases, as well as the Governor’s Executive Order to make water conservation a way of life.

The Surfrider Foundation and Green Gardens Group were leading members within the Green L.A. Coalition to push Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz to sponsor the motion to change the rebate requirements. Surfrider worked with staff from LADWP, the Bureau of Sanitation and the Mayor’s office, educating and advocating for the stronger standards. Surfrider also educated Board members and lead the charge at the Board meeting for not rebating artificial turf.

The new requirements drew from Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program standards and follow what is becoming known statewide as the “watershed approach.” The watershed approach has four elements: build living soil, retain the rain, use climate-appropriate plants, and utilize high-efficiency irrigation devices as needed. The LADWP turf replacement rebate is $1.75 per square foot of lawn and inefficient irrigation converted to the watershed approach. The new guidelines could take effect soon as September 1, 2016.

“Just one inch of rain in L.A. generates 8 billion gallons of storm water runoff,” said Surfrider Foundation’s Paul Herzog, Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program Coordinator. “We applaud LADWP in becoming the first city in the state to require the capture of rainwater, and to not rebate artificial turf.”

“The biological life in soil helps soil act like a sponge to hold onto water and sequester carbon,” says Pamela Berstler, CEO of Green Gardens Group. “Living soil is the key component for resiliency in urban areas in times of water scarcity and climate volatility.”

More about Ocean Friendly Gardens Program at here


The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide. Learn more at surfrider.org