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Working with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, our Water Use Efficiency Incentives can help lower your water usage and cost.
Rebate reservations are required prior to the purchase of qualifying equipment. Earn rebates for installing:
High-Efficiency, Ultra Low-Flush and Zero Water Urinals
Ultra low-flush and zero water urinals provide effective, low maintenance flushing in public restrooms while reducing water consumption.
Connectionless Food Steamers
Water-efficient, connectionless (pressureless) food steamers, which have no water or sewer discharge lines, have recently been developed to maintain or warm food in small- to medium-size restaurants.
Weather-Based “Smart” Irrigation Controllers
Weather-based (“smart”) irrigation controllers provide the appropriate watering schedule, adjust for changing weather patterns and irrigate based on the needs of your landscape.
Central Computer Irrigation Controllers
These sophisticated systems are designed for larger irrigated areas such as golf courses, parks, schools and large commercial complexes. Central computer irrigation controllers consist of a master controller (often a personal computer) which tells the valves in remote locations to open and close.
High-Efficiency Nozzles for Pop-Up Spray Heads
High-efficiency sprinkler nozzles can distribute water more effectively.
High-Efficiency Nozzles for Large Rotary Heads
By replacing your standard plastic nozzles with high-efficiency metal nozzles, your large rotary sprinklers will become resistant to wear and distribute water more uniformly.
In-Stem Flow Regulators
The in-stem regulator controls water flow in irrigation systems at the head. This is an ideal solution for parks, schools, office complexes, golf courses, nurseries and other commercial irrigation applications.
Laminar Flow Restrictors
Laminar flow devices avoid drawing air into the water stream, allowing them to produce a non-aerated clear stream of water while inhibiting bacterial growth and transmission. They reduce flow rates and can help lower water and energy costs.
Conductivity controllers can lower the cost of operating your cooling tower by providing greater control over your tower’s blow down and subsequent makeup water. And with an integrated pH conductivity controller, you can upgrade your cooling tower water treatment system by adding chemicals that control the system’s pH.
Dry Vacuum Pumps
Liquid ring vacuum pumps use large quantities of water to create a liquid seal and enable suction. Dry vacuum pumps, on the other hand, use machined parts with extremely close tolerances to create suction. Both types of vacuum pumps are used in manufacturing facilities, including medical and dental manufacturing, among other uses.
Air-Cooled Ice Machines
Air-cooled ice machines use less water and energy than conventional ice machines, and make ice more quickly and efficiently.
Bourns, a global electronics company located on Iowa
Avenue in Riverside, recently used Waterwise Landscaping Rebates from RPU in the
company’s massive landscape overhaul. Bourns replaced over 3 acres of grass with a variety colorful waterwise plants, walking paths,
storm water capture systems, dry creek beds, and an employee recreation area.
The landscape makeover will allow Bourns to save nearly 5 million gallons of water per year.
Here is the initial design:
The WaterWise Landscape Rebate Program provides incentives for Riverside Public Utilities residential and commercial water customers who replace existing lawn areas with water-efficient, California-friendly plants. Customers can receive up to $1.00 per square foot for living grass (lawn) that is replaced with WaterWise landscaping suited to our region’s semi-arid climate.
Restrictions apply, so be sure to read the Program Guidelines and Process Guidelines for more information. We also suggest you review the Program Resources, Frequently Asked Questions and Study Guide sections of this website to help you get started with your project.
Thank you for your interest in helping us conserve water!
If you intend to participate in the RPU turf removal program, please do not begin to kill or remove your existing turf grass prior to pre-approval by RPU. Written notice to proceed from RPU is required before turning off water or removing any turf grass.
This program is open to both RPU residential and commercial water customers. Property must be located within the RPU service territory and applicant must be a current RPU water customer, in good standing.
Please read all Program Guidelines, Process Guidelines and Terms and Conditions in their entirety.
Create a Landscape Design Plan, which illustrates the overall design of your project. The plan can be simple but needs to be to scale so that RPU can determine that you meet the plant coverage requirements. For addition information to assist you with your design plan, please visit the Design Requirements.
Applications must be submitted via email at RPUWaterWise@riversideca.gov. In your email, you will submit:
Note: If you belong to an HOA, you will need to notify the HOA of your proposed changes to ensure your project meets any and all HOA landscape regulations that may apply. You will need HOA approval of your landscape plans before you submit your application to the program.
To receive a pre-inspection appointment you must have submitted the following:
The RPU Program Manager will notify you, by e-mail, if your plan is approved or if it needs modifications. Once your landscape design plan is approved, an RPU inspector will contact you to schedule an in-person, pre-inspection appointment to verify the current conditions of your property and confirm that your turf grass is alive. After your site conditions are verified, RPU will notify you, by email, the approved square footage of your project and issue you a notice to proceed.
Convert Your Lawn and Receive Your Incentive Payment!
After your site conditions are verified, RPU will notify you, by email, the approved square footage of your project and issue you a notice to proceed.
Once you have been issued a notice to proceed from RPU, you will have 90 calendar days to complete the Project. Upon completion of your project you are required to notify RPU via email at RPUWaterWise@riversideca.gov. Completion notification MUST be made prior to the expiration of your 90 day deadline. At this time, RPU will contact you to conduct a post-inspection to verify program compliance.
At your post-inspection appointment, please provide all necessary documentation for your landscape conversion project, including all paid-in-full invoices or receipts. Once you have submitted ALL required documentation, you have met the requirements of the program and the landscape was constructed according to the design we approved, RPU will e-mail you stating the approval of the project.
Payments will typically be made within approximately 60 calendar days of post-inspection and final project approval. Rebates will only be issued:
RPU will provide the incentive payment to you in the form of a check made payable to the RPU water account holder.
Maintain your new landscape
The converted landscape must be maintained for 5 years minimum as a grass or lawn-free zone.
Confirm that your project meets all of the Eligibility, Design and Landscape Requirements listed below.
Confirm that your project meets all items on the following checklist.
Did you know that about half of the water used at the average home goes towards landscape irrigation, and that about half of the landscape water is wasted? Most sprinkler systems are inefficient and tend to waste a lot of water.
The most water-efficient irrigation system is you! That’s right; people who water by hand tend to use the least amount of water on their landscapes. The drawback with this method is that people are not always available when the plants need watering, so the latter become unhealthy and the former unhappy.
Fortunately, you can design your landscape to incorporate the most drought-tolerant plants, requiring no more than once per week watering, even during the summer (certain short-rooted plants in hot sunny parts of the landscape).
When the convenience of an in-ground irrigation system is needed, it’s important to know that different types of systems are more water-efficient than others. Below are the major types of water-efficient irrigation systems.
Drip irrigation is a precise, slow, direct system of applying water to the soil, which makes 100% of the water available to the plant. Where drip systems release so many gallons of water per hour, traditional spray heads release up to four or more gallons per minute. The environmental and water-saving benefits of drip include decreased run-off, evaporation, and overspray. Drip irrigation is often preferred where you have relatively few plants spread over a large area (for example, a few large bushes with a lot of open space between them) or where you have hard-to-water areas such as narrow planters. When installing drip, you must include a device to lower the water pressure and a special filter to keep the system from clogging up.
Bubblers are a form of precise watering that deliver water deep into the soil – hence, it is especially useful around plants that have deep roots, such as trees. Bubblers are also useful in certain planter boxes where traditional sprinklers will not work. Bubblers are durable, require little maintenance, require minimal filtration, minimize overspray and evaporation, and have an easily adjustable flow rate.
Stream rotors replace traditional pop-up spray heads – that is, you simply screw the old top (the nozzle) off the pop-up and screw the stream rotor back in its place. Compared to traditional spray heads, stream rotors are fairly water conserving and only release about 25 percent of the water per minute: reducing evaporation and reducing runoff. Stream rotors work well where you need to water a lot of plants that have fairly short root systems, like many groundcovers and bunchgrasses. The alternative irrigation system is to run an extensive drip system.
For more information on any of these irrigation methods, please visit the website of Riverside based Toro or other manufacturers such as Hunter and Rain Bird. You may also find help by visiting local stores such as:
Choosing the right plants will be one of the toughest decisions you make. There are almost too many potential factors to consider. This is where spending time at nurseries, on the Internet, and observing what grows well in your neighborhood will really pay off.
When selecting plants for your garden, it is important to (1) understand the characteristics (such as the amount of sunlight) of the location to determine what plants are suited for that area and (2) understand the water needs of existing plants in that location – to make sure your additions can be placed on the same watering cycle.
Some important things to consider:
Choosing the plants that are right for you can be one of the most difficult steps in this process. There are so many potential plants from which to choose, you will feel like a kid in a candy shop.
Hardscapes are structures within your landscape design such as terraces, patios, walls and paths. They are features constructed of hard materials including brick, stone, wood, and concrete. However, it is important to use permeable materials, or place impermeable materials (such as bricks and pavers) with enough space to allow water to infiltrate between them. Allowing water to percolate into the soil reduces or eliminates runoff and helps irrigate the soil.
Hardscape can create architectural interest by changing the shape or elevation of your garden, as is the case with short retaining walls and terraces, or direct the eye, as well as the foot, by forming permeable walkways that meander through your landscape.
Like any new landscape, California friendly plants require careful attention during their initial establishment period. What we want during the “establishment period” is for the root system to become expansive – in other words, we care less about how well the plant looks above ground, but more about how well it’s doing underground. Once its root system becomes well established (hence, “establishment period”), your new plants should thrive.
We recommend you follow a few simple Tree of Life Nursery guidelines to ensure proper establishment:
Most California friendly plants will flourish without the use of artificial fertilizers. If you choose to use fertilizer, be sure to use an “all purpose” type of plant food during cool season plantings (October through May). Generally, you can cut the amount of fertilizer given for general ornamental plants in half when applying fertilizers to California friendly plants. Fertilizers often contain high levels of nitrogen, which can be environmentally harmful in high concentrations. This excess nitrogen is then carried through our storm drains and deposited directly in our coastal waters.
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether or not to use fertilizer on your landscape.
You may need to thin and cut back certain types of plants in order to direct growth of the maturing plant. Pruning a plant often stresses the system but encourages new growth and flowering. It is not necessary to prune all plants. Some people like the appearance of a well-maintained, pruned garden, while others like a more natural look. Ask your local nursery if any of your plants require pruning and, if so, what time of year they should be pruned and by how much.
The more effort you put into maintaining your landscape in its early stages, the less you will have to maintain it in the long run. No more mowing, edging, or spending countless hours maintaining a water-thirsty grass lawn. Consider adding a couple of inches of organic mulch (preferably composted mulch) annually, and periodically weed your garden to avoid unwanted plants from getting established. It is also important to occasionally check your irrigation system to ensure that it is running efficiently without any leaks.
The Internet has an abundance of free information about drought-tolerant landscaping, from instructions on how to kill your lawn to guidelines for efficient irrigation methods. Begin your search with the Resource Tab on this website, where we have listed many of our favorite sites.
Three terrific sites are: Los Angeles Coast Water Wise Gardening, BeWaterWise.com Garden Spot and the Santa Clara Valley Landscape Conversion Photo Gallery. In addition to photos of beautiful landscapes, these sites have extensive on-line databases of drought tolerant plants, including photos and information about the plants, such as size, color of blooms, whether they attract wildlife such as butterflies, and more. The BeWaterWise.com Garden Spot also hosts free on-line “California Friendly Landscape and Gardening Classes”.
Another resource is very close to home. Remember the old saying “imitation is the highest form of flattery?” Flatter your neighbors. A sure-fire way to end up with a landscape you’ll love is to simply copy existing landscapes that you admire. Walk around your neighborhood. Identify what it is you like about a particular landscape, the plants, rocks, mulch, seating area, etc. If you’re feeling bold, knock on the front door of these homes and ask about their experience, who their designer and/or contractor was, etc. You’ll find most homeowners take pride in their landscape and love to talk about it.
Stores, nurseries and botanical gardens are other good sources of ideas. Non-plant material, such as pavers, can greatly enhance a landscape (and most are maintenance-free!). Take a trip to your local hardware stores where you’ll find non-plant material that is readily available or can be special ordered, and their associated prices. For plants, you can explore local nurseries to see what’s in season.
Finally, a landscape designer experienced in drought-tolerant landscape can be a terrific choice. Be sure to check out some of his or her completed projects before committing to work with them, to make sure their concept of “beautiful” is the same as yours.
It’s very important to get a rough yet realistic estimate of the cost of your project before you start spending money; we’ve all heard the horror stories about the kitchen remodel that stopped with the work only partially complete because homeowners grossly underestimated the cost of the projects and ran out of money. This does not have to happen to you and your new landscape if you take just a little time to plan it out.
Two of the most important factors related to cost are: (1) whether you plan on using expensive materials (exotic plants and stone, for example) and (2) whether you plan on doing most of the work yourself or hiring others to do it?
We have found that you can expect to pay anywhere from less than $5 per square foot to over $20, depending on your answers to these two questions.
If considering hiring others to do the work, it’s important to get the right person for the job. One of the best ways to do this is to find landscapes that you admire, and ask those homeowners who they worked with (designer and/or installer) and whether they would recommend that person. So if you find a professional you might be interested in hiring, ask that person for references.
Here are some things to consider when thinking about cost.
Properly removing your existing grass lawn is one of the most important components of installing a California friendly garden. If the existing grass lawn is not completely killed, including the roots that might be deep underground, it will come back and ruin your new landscape. Premature planting of your new garden will mean years of follow-up weed removal, which you do NOT want to do. So make sure the lawn is dead, dead, dead!
There are a few different methods to kill your lawn, including herbicide application and solarization. Before you kill your lawn, you must Determine what kind of grass you have:
Cool Season Grasses. Here are a few options of how to kill cool season grasses.
Warm Season Grasses are harder to kill, especially in the winter when they are dormant, because you have to kill all the roots. Here are a few methods of removal: (Located in following accordion panels)
According to the UC Guide to Healthy Lawns, the most effective way to kill your grass lawn is through the application of a nonselective herbicide, like glyphosate. Glyophosate is the main ingredient in “Roundup”, which is readily available at most garden supply stores. While herbicides are undeniably effective, they also pose threats to the environment if used improperly. It is up to the consumer to determine the costs and benefits of herbicide use. Here are some key points to consider if you plan on using this technique:
NOTE: In order to prevent unnecessary pollution and the destruction of non-targeted plant material, it is important that herbicide is not applied in windy conditions or 24 hours before a rain event. Visit Cornell University’s Pesticide Management Education Program for more information on glyphosate. Before applying any herbicide, be sure to read and understand the label. When it comes to herbicide, the label is the law.
The techniques listed above are not meant to be exhaustive. The Learn how to kill your lawn in greater detail with UC Guide to Healthy Lawns and the Tree of Life Nursery listed in the resources section of this website provide excellent guides on how to kill your lawn.
Before you plant your new garden, understand your soil. Healthy soil will help your plants get established and thrive. Soil texture and organic content should all be taken into consideration in preparation of your new landscape.
Drainage is one of the most important characteristics of your garden’s soil. Soil needs to be porous enough to allow air and water to travel in between pore spaces and, ultimately, to the roots of the plants. Sandy soils tend to have good drainage, while clay soils have poor drainage.
Installing the plants is done after you have installed almost everything else, including the hardscape and irrigation system.
No, the purpose of the WaterWise Landscape Rebate Program is to claim water savings and reduce the current demand on our water system. As stated in the Program Guidelines, to qualify, you must currently have living irrigated grass in your yard. Your lawn must either be well maintained or brown. Bare patches of dirt will not be eligible. If your lawn has large patches of dirt, those areas will be deducted from the total project area. A portion of the pre-inspection is to verify that the property is irrigated and that there is a living, maintained lawn area you are planning to replace. Participants must not remove any natural turf grass prior to an on-site pre-inspection and approval from RPU.
Yes. We ask that a landscape fabric, that allows water to permeate into the ground, be used in your landscape conversion project. The idea behind this is long-term maintenance and weed prevention. Mulch does a good job of suppressing weeds. The weed barriers you choose to use must be permeable, allowing water to soak through. Plastic is not allowed and will cause your application to be ruled ineligible.
Mulch is a layer of organic (like shredded bark) or inorganic (rock) material applied to the surface of the soil to help maintain soil moisture, prevent weed growth, and maintain cool soil temperatures. Some mulching materials that qualify for the Program consist of shredded bark, gravel, rock, or decomposed granite.
Based on information from previously completed projects, an estimate of the cost of a landscape conversion project is anywhere from $2 to more than $5 per square foot depending on the size and detail of the WaterWise project. The intent of the WaterWise Landscape Rebate Program is to assist Riverside residents to replace a water-intensive plant, natural turf grass, with a water-efficient landscape, drought tolerant plants. This will help participants realize long term savings from significantly reduced maintenance and water costs.
Existing traditional, spray irrigation sprinklers must be converted or removed and replaced with a low-volume drip irrigation system. Spray irrigation and plumbing is not permitted.
No. This program was established to encourage alternatives to turf grass. Obviously, there are appropriate needs for turf grass such as a playing surface for children, or areas for dogs. For areas that are not involved in the landscape conversion project for which you would like to maintain turf grass for the above-mentioned uses, RPU encourages the use of such warm-season turf grasses.
Plant material must cover at least 50 % of the new landscaped area by the time the plants are mature, or after approximately two years.
No we do not allow artificial turf.
Participants are asked to replant at least 50% of the conversion area with California-friendly, drought tolerant plants. We take into account the mature growth of each plant, shrub and groundcover. Participants may plant any size plant during their conversion project and it won’t change the percentage of cover. The only exception is trees where you are allotted a maximum of 78 square feet (five foot radius) per tree for the purposes of calculating your percentage of plant cover. This is to prevent someone from planting all trees and nothing else. While the 50% plant requirement is difficult to quantify, we advise participants to install more plants so that what they are planning will meet all the program guidelines and receive final rebate approval.
No, the WaterWise Landscape Rebate Program is only for natural turf grass removal and conversion. Ivy, other groundcovers, or slope areas not covered with natural turf grass are not eligible for participation in Program.
The purpose of our program is to create landscapes that promote a water-efficient alternative to natural turf grass. The intent of the WaterWise Landscape Rebate Program is to replace a water-intensive plant, natural turf grass, with a water-efficient landscape, drought tolerant plants. We claim savings for the water saved between irrigating natural turf grass and irrigating the water-efficient plants. A yard of gravel does not meet program guidelines. In addition, the landscape conversion projects must follow local landscape ordinances and codes.
No. Water must be able to seep through (permeate) new landscapes to be eligible for a rebate. The total square feet of concrete or other non-permeable surfaces used will be deducted from your total rebate amount. Materials such as pavers, stepping stones, flagstones, etc. may be used as long as they are no grouted or mortared into place and are “sand-set”.
No, turf replacement incentives are limited to one application per site address/premise. If you receive a rebate for replacing your turf, you cannot apply for another rebate even if you replace additional turf at a later date. Please apply for the maximum area you plan to convert.
After receiving approval to start the work, you will have 90 days to complete your project.
Materials not eligible include, but are not limited to artificial turf, seed, sod, vegetable gardens, vineyards, medium and high water use plants, annual planting material, lawn ornaments, statues, fountains, lighting, impervious surfaces, cement, decking, curbing, hot tubs, pools, building extensions, retaining walls, sheds, trellises, gazebos, playground materials, and fences.
If approved, payments will typically be made within 8-12 weeks of submitting your completed project.
No. We cannot recommend any landscape contractors or designers.
No. You need an individual water account to qualify for this program.
For assistance with these programs, call our account management team at 951.826.5485 or e-mail us.