Riverside Public Utilities Rebates

Program Guidelines

Riverside Public Utilities will pay an incentive of $1.00 per square foot for living grass (lawn) that is replaced with a beautiful water-efficient landscape suited to our region’s semi-arid climate. Restrictions apply, so be sure to read the specifications and guidelines for more information.

  • Computer, Internet and email access are required to participate. Applications must be submitted through Riverside Public Utilities Program website. Paper applications cannot be accepted.
  • You must check with your Homeowner’s Association, City and County for rules and regulations related to landscaping your specific property.

Confirm that your project meets all of the eligibility requirements listed below.

  • The turf grass to be removed must be actively growing and irrigated at the time of pre-inspection. If you intend to participate in the RPU turf removal program, please do not begin to kill or remove your existing turf grass. Areas to be converted must have a living, maintained and irrigated turf grass lawn prior to pre-approval by RPU.
  • Any pre-existing projects of turf removal, which were initiated and/or completed prior to the approval of an application by RPU, will be disqualified and ruled ineligible for participation in this program.
  • All projects must be pre-inspected by RPU prior to turf removal.
  • Area converted must not contain turf or turf looking grasses. Please be advised that this includes artificial turf or turf-looking grass, such as Buffalo grass, St. Augustine, etc.
  • A Project for this Program is defined as the area where ornamental turf grass (lawn) will be replaced with a climate-appropriate landscape. “Climate-appropriate” landscaping is generally described as drought tolerant and or Southern California native. RPU has the discretion to determine if the replacement landscaping falls within this definition.
  • Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible costs include design, applicable permitting, materials and installation. No project shall be eligible for funding in excess of $1.00 per square foot, up to 3,000 square feet for a maximum rebate of $3,000.00 for residential customers and 25,000 square feet for a maximum rebate of $25,000.00 for commercial customers. Rebate cannot exceed 100% of the cost of the project.
  • Funding is NOT available from SoCalWaterSmart.com (Metropolitan Water District) for any project in this Program. Projects shall only receive funding from this Program.
  • Receipts are required. The rebate cannot exceed the cost of the project. Copies of itemized receipts and contracts are required to be submitted to RPU for the Project within 30 days of project completion. RPU will not consider taxes paid as part of project costs.
  • Area eligible for the rebate must be receiving potable water from an active RPU water service account.
  • Property must be located within the RPU service territory and applicant must be a current RPU water customer, in good standing.
  • Written notice to proceed from RPU is required before turning off water or removing any turf grass.

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Confirm that your project meets all of the design requirements listed below.

  • A landscape design must be submitted online for approval by RPU.
  • A professionally-drawn design is eligible to be included in project cost. However, a professionally-drawn design is NOT required. A hand-drawn design by your typical homeowner, using simple icons to represent landscape elements, such as circles for bushes, trees, and shrubs may be submitted. The landscape design must show enough detail to illustrate the overall design of the project.
  • The landscape design must include the following:
    • Street address of the landscape conversion.
    • Dimensions of your landscape conversion in relation to large, existing features such as the street, sidewalk, driveway, home, etc.
    • A list of the plant palette to be installed, including the plant size at maturity and their locations (bushes, shrubs, trees, etc.) that will cover at least 50% of the landscape conversion area.
    • Location and dimensions of new permeable hardscape areas to be installed such as pavers, brick, flagstone, etc. set on a bed of sand, in which no mortar or grout will be used.
    • Location and dimensions of new non-permeable hardscape areas to be installed in place of turf such as patios, walkways, retaining walls, etc. (These areas will be subtracted from the reimbursable portion of your landscape conversion.)
    • Dimensions of turf anticipated to be removed
  • To see an example of a landscape design that meets the design requirement, please click here.
  • Projects must be pre-inspected and turf area to be removed shall be measured and verified by RPU. A written notice to proceed will be issued after the property has been pre-inspected.
  • All existing overhead irrigation must be converted to low-flow (drip) irrigation.
  • Projects must be post-inspected by RPU following completion of the conversion.

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Confirm that your project meets all of the landscape requirements listed below.

  • This program applies to front yards, side yards, backyards, and parkways (small strips of landscape located between sidewalk and curb) if maintained by owner.
  • Once the Project begins, all lawn in the approved project area must be completely removed. No incentive will be paid if the participant ends up removing less lawn than stated on the approved application, or otherwise fails to complete all of the requirements of the Program.
  • At a minimum, 50% of the eligible Project Area (including permeable hardscape areas) must be landscaped with climate-appropriate plants (artificial turf does not meet program guidelines). This minimum coverage requirement can be satisfied using the eventual mature size of the plant materials other than trees. Each tree can count up to 78 square feet (five foot radius) for the purposes of calculating the 50% minimum coverage requirement.
  • The landscape conversion must include a minimum of three inches of mulch between and beneath the plants. Mulch is not required in areas of the project that incorporate decomposed granite, pavers, gravel or bark.
  • 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 you belong to an HOA, RPU recommends that participants get approval from their HOA to meet all of their landscape regulations that may apply. You will need HOA approval of your landscape plans before you submit your application to the program.
  • Areas replaced with non-porous concrete, although not prohibited, are not eligible for funding and shall not count toward eligible square footage under this Program.
  • Existing overhead irrigation systems within the Project area must be capped off or converted a low-volume drip irrigation system. Spray irrigation and plumbing is not permitted.
  • The completed Project area must remain in compliance with all Program conditions for a period of at least 5 years from the date of Project approval.

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