EBMUD considers extending rebates for customers who install artificial turf

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- There's a bit of controversy swirling around the Bay Area's largest water agency.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is considering extending rebates to customers who install artificial grass, but not everyone is happy.

EBMUD officials are still split on the issue and plan to discuss it again during a meeting next month.

In the meantime, some homeowners are moving ahead with their conversion to fake grass, but not everyone likes the idea of being rewarded for it. Tor Mclean's yard in Lafayette is getting an extreme makeover. He's saying goodbye to dirt and gravel and hello to synthetic turf. "This happened to be done at a time when everyone else is doing it. It's going to look pretty. It's going to look good, won't have to spend a lot of money on it, conserve water," he said.

There could be new incentives for EBMUD customers who go synthetic. EBMUD already offers rebates of up to $ 2,500 to customers who switch to drought-tolerant landscapes. Cash rewards may be extended to those who fake it with the artificial turf with a rebate cap of $1,200. "The idea being, that if you're going to convert your landscape there should be some natural material to convert it, not all artificial," EBMUD spokesperson Abby Figueroa said.

However, some environmentalists don't like giving rebates for something fake. StopWaste sent a letter to East Bay Mud in protest. "This stuff has no place to go after its useful life other than a landfill and people may install it and send it to landfill a few years after the drought is over," Stop Waste spokesperson Gary Wolff said.

Business is booming for the synthetic turf industry. Hayward-based Global Syn-Turf says it is barely keeping up with demand.

Some customers can pay up to $10 a square foot for the look of real grass and a rebate may help defer the cost.

To learn how much your city is required to cut back, click here. For water rebate information from Bay Area water suppliers, click here. And click here for tips on how to conserve water. To learn more about how to report water wasters #WhereYouLive, click here.

For full coverage on the drought, click here.
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