$340-Million Turf Rebate Program Plagued by Poor Planning, Oversight: Audit

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A crew helps with turf removal and replacement at a Pacific Palisades home. (Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Metropolitan Water District’s massive $340-million turf rebate program — which helped thousands of Southern Californians rip out their lawns in favor of drought-tolerant landscaping — was plagued by poor planning and oversight by the agency, a new audit found.

The rebate program was a key element of California’s drought response, and officials say it helped residents conserve water. But the audit found that the MWD did a “less than satisfactory” job administrating the program due to “inadequate planning, execution, and follow-up.”

As a result, MWD auditors concluded that the agency may have overpaid a contractor tasked with inspecting turf replacements, and that the contractor also may have failed to perform some critical inspections it was required to carry out.

The findings represent perhaps the most scrupulous examination of the popular but costly lawn removal program, which was designed to help urban Californians sharply reduce their outdoor water use during the drought.

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