More than $30 million in financial incentives offered by the Department of Water and Power to encourage residents to replace their turf lawns or install water-efficient appliances had a relatively small effect on residents’ overall conservation efforts over the past fiscal year, according to an audit released Friday.
Residents who conserved without taking advantage of any financial incentives accounted for 88 percent of the city’s drop in per-capita water use, according to the report by City Controller Ron Galperin, who said the DWP should re-focus its incentive programs.
According to the audit, the DWP spent $17.8 million on rebates for residents and businesses to rip out turf lawns, and $14.9 million on rebates for installing high-efficiency appliances.
Auditors found that all of DWP’s incentive programs combined resulted in a per-capita drop in water use of 2.6 gallons per day between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years. During that same period, however, the city’s overall daily per-capita water use dropped by 22 gallons per day — meaning the residents who were not given any financial incentives accounted for 88 percent of the city’s conservation effort.
“If money is no object, turf replacement rebates are a relatively expedient way to save water,” Galperin said. “But, of course, money is an object.”
Galperin said the turf-replacement program did have value as a “gimmick,” by generating publicity and raising awareness of the need for conservation.
—City News Service