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LCRA water conservation rebates could net property owners up to $600

mulch

Residential water customers can get a financial boost through LCRA rebates for improving irrigation systems, purchasing pool covers, or simply mulching their landscape.

Highland Lakes property owners can cash in through the Lower Colorado River Authority’s WaterSmart Rebates program by improving sprinkler systems, pools, and even landscaping, saving themselves money upfront and in the long run.

The program offers rebates of up to 50 percent of the total cost for a number of residential improvements focused on water conservation. The maximum rebate amount per residential customer is $600. The amount of a rebate varies based on the project. 

“The rebates are a win-win because they help people save money and conserve water,” said LCRA Executive Vice President of Water John Hofmann. “The rebates encourage people to use water efficiently on their lawns, which not only creates healthy plants and landscapes but also results in reduced runoff and pollution.”

Pool owners can apply for pool cover rebates of $50 or $200, depending on the type of cover. A pool cover can significantly reduce water loss due to evaporation. 

According to the LCRA, “a 10,000-gallon pool can lose up to 5½ feet of water to evaporation from March through October, which is enough to dry up many pools — resulting in a waste of water, maintenance costs, (and) pool chemicals.”

The rebates cover a variety of water conservation projects, including, but not limited to, irrigation system evaluations, pressure-reducing irrigation system equipment, soil moisture sensors, WaterSense smart controllers, pool filters, mechanical soil aeration, soil testing, and composting and mulch.

“Even relatively small projects such as aerating soil or maintaining an irrigation system properly can make a significant difference,” Hofmann said. “Studies show that about 60 percent of outdoor water use in Texas over the summer is for outdoor irrigation, and about 30 to 40 percent of that is wasted.”

Even having soil tested can help a property owner save water and money used on fertilizers, whether chemical or organic. The LCRA offers rebates of up to $50 for a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension soil test or up to 50 percent of the cost — $125 limit — for a Texas Plant and Soil Lab test

“This season, we’ve added a new rebate for soil testing,” Hofmann said. “This uses scientific testing to tell you what your soil is lacking, which helps you know what nutrients to supply. With the test from (Texas) A&M (AgriLife Extension), you can say, ‘I have Bermuda grass or Buffalo grass or native plants …’ or whatever you have, and they will provide you with yearly nutrient recommendations. This simple test can help you improve your landscape and use water more efficiently.”

By following soil nutrient recommendations, landowners aren’t overusing fertilizers, which can run off into nearby water sources. 

Hofmann also recommends homeowners check out the Water My Yard program, which provides a weekly watering schedule based on a specific address.

“This can help people water their yards without overwatering,” he said. “Some people think they need to water every few days, but data shows landscapes in this area typically only need to be watered 27 of 52 weeks a year.”

Visit the LCRA residential rebates webpage for more information on the rebates, including how to apply. The river authority also offers commercial rebates for water conservation.

daniel@thepicayune.com