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Council adds another $5,000 for city Turf Removal Rebate program
Xeriscape in Ceres
Residents and business owners can receive a rebate from the city for replacing turf with attractive xeriscaping. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier file photo

Another $10,000 was approved by the Ceres City Council last week for the city to continue offering rebates to residents and businesses removing turf and replacing it with approved decorative xeriscapes.

Since 2015 the city has been offering the turf removal rebate program to residential, commercial and industrial accounts to reduce outdoor water use and meet the goals set by the State Water Resources Control Board. Single-family households are eligible for a rebate up to $500 and all other accounts up to $1,000.

The rebate helps owners to buy and install rocks and/or bark and drought-tolerant plants rather than leave a yard barren.

The program has been utilized mostly by single- and multi-family residential accounts and has helped reduce the demand for water. Usage in those categories of accounts has only increased by one percent from 2016 to 2021. To date this fiscal year, two commercial properties and five homeowners have applied for the rebate, and the city expects more to apply by the end of the year.

The recently adopted city budget had only earmarked $5,000 for turf replacement rebates. However, the city expects more requests for rebates from businesses since Gov. Gavin Newsom passed an emergency order in March that businesses must stop watering decorative or non-functional turf and mowed grass. City staffers asked for an additional $5,000 to help businesses to remove grass and replace it with something that looks nice rather than let it turn brown and die.

The commercial turf watering ban is intended to result in a 10 to 20 percent water savings. The state’s emergency order does not prohibit the use of recycled water to water non-functional turf at businesses or industrial sites.

Since the emergency order, more commercial properties have taken advantage of the rebate program.

With the new allocation, the city expects to help 20 single-family residential accounts or 10 commercial properties, or a combination of both.

To qualify for the turf removal rebate, a homeowner must take out at least 100 square feet of lawn and replace it with an eye-pleasing combination of rock or bark and drought tolerant plants. Proof of expenses must be offered to the city in order to qualify. Up to $500 will be offered.

For more information on the rebate program, call the city at 209-538-5732.

Homeowners are being urged to sign up for the city water meter portal to monitor water use. Most residents have not done so. The web portal may be found at and allows residents to track their use by hour or day if they wish.