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As drought worsens, water officials urge property owners to replace grass with drought-friendly native plants


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    LOS ANGELES (KCAL/KCBS) — World Water Day is on Tuesday, so water officials are calling on Californians again to conserve more water in the face of a worsening drought.

One of the best ways to conserve water is to reduce outdoor watering, so Metropolitan Water District held a news conference at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants to encourage Angelenos to use native plants that are more acclimated to Southern California’s dry weather and require much less water than grass.

“If you don’t use your grass, if it is just there to look pretty, please consider instead the beauty of native and California-friendly plants,” Metropolitan Water District Chairwoman Gloria D. Gray said. “Not only are they beautiful and save water, they also create important ecosystems for birds and butterflies.”

According to the Metropolitan Water District, turning a 1,500 square-foot lawn into a water-efficient landscape can save 51,000 gallons of water every year. People who replace their grass with water-efficient landscaping can receive a rebate of $2 per square foot from the MWD, Southern California’s water wholesaler. Rebates are also available from other local water agencies.

The rebate program has helped remove 200 million square feet of grass, which has saved enough water to provide about 62,000 homes with water each year, officials said.

Last week, water officials slashed allocations from 15% to 5% for some water agencies.

“We have to make these finite supplies last the entire year,” Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said. “If we don’t cut back now, we could be limited to providing only enough water to meet health and human safety needs in these communities. That would effectively eliminate all outdoor water use.”

Along with reducing water use for lawns, officials are urging residents and businesses to fix any leaky sprinkler heads and to adjust them to avoid over-spraying into areas that don’t have plants.

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