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Scottsdale increases financial incentives for residents, businesses to remove grass

Scottsdale has increased financial incentivesfor residents and businesses to remove grass. The Water Department has $300,000 to offer in rebates this fiscal year, that's $50,000 more than last year. Scottsdale’s water policy manager Gretchen Baumgardner expects to spend it all.

“We are seeing a higher increase of applications for rebates, so those are just people initially putting in their applications and getting inspections,” she said. “The HOA program has increased 800% compared to last fiscal year and that’s just HOAs we’re continuing to have conversations with.”

Commercial properties that remove turf can receive up to 25% of the project cost up to $20,000, plus a bonus up to $10,000 for removing specific strips of grass labeled ‘non-functional’.

“If you ever drive by a sidewalk or you’re walking by a sidewalk and you see that little bit of turf between maybe the sidewalk and the road and it’s three or four feet of turf and no one ever walks on it, we call that non-functional turf,” said Baumgardner. “And a lot of times when it comes to irrigation, a lot of irrigation head rotors can’t water them efficiently so that’s why you get a lot of overspray either on the street or on the sidewalk.”

She hopes residents will evaluate which areas of grass they use and consider reducing areas they do not use.

“Maybe you have some portions of your backyard that your children play in or you have usage “with your dogs or you just find really functional for family parties, those are great functional uses,” Baumgardner said. ‘But in areas that are maybe the back portion of the backyard that no one ever goes to or even your front yard — no one walks on that turf, it’s more of an ornamental item – those are non-functional water uses,” 

For residential customers, Scottsdale has doubled turf removal rebates to two dollars per square foot. Last January, the city asked residents, businesses and visitors to conserve water usage by at least five percent because of a Colorado River supply shortage.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.