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Multi-Benefit Incentive Program Implementation in San Diego County

African Tulip in front of house


  • North America



Facing possible water shortages due to the increasing prevalence of droughts, intensifying water quality compliance mandates, and record-breaking wildfire seasons, California water managers are recognizing that working together helps individual agency resources go further and creates impact faster. Seeing the need for effective and cross-cutting solutions, the County of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority have entered a 5-year partnership to offer increased rebates for actions that improve water supply and keep waterways clean.  

This partnership, one of the first of its kind in the region, is part of the County of San Diego’s new Waterscape Rebate Program (WRP), which offers incentives for residential, commercial, and agricultural customers for implementing projects that upgrade properties, save money, and improve water quality. Property owners can receive higher-than-ever rebates for installing turf replacements, rain-saving containers and features, and smart irrigation controllers, among other actionsThe program also features innovative technical assistance programs for commercial landscapes, and a cost-share program for agricultural efficiency upgrades. By “stacking” incentives from different budgets, multiple water resource agencies can make their individual funds go furtherimprove program participation, and increase the funding pool for program delivery and scaling.  

The County of San Diego originally engaged Environmental Incentives to conduct the preliminary research and feasibility analysis that provided the evidence base for this program. After launching a pilot initiative, EI now serves as the ongoing technical assistance provider, working to implement the Waterscape Rebate Programdevelop and scale program infrastructure, and support new and existing partnerships between the two agencies. Over the coming year, our team will support the County and its partners to:  

  • Implement projects to understand viability of each incentive program and adapt policies to maximize cost-effectiveness 
  • Define metrics and benefit estimation methods and tools to track and report water quality and supply benefits  
  • Develop monitoring, evaluation, and learning systems to adaptively manage program performance  

This effort builds on Environmental Incentives’ work developing incentive programs using market-centric design to rapidly prototype and launch viable approaches and then expand successful elements to produce multiple benefits for water quality and supply.  

For more information, visit the Waterscape Rebate Program Page.

This video highlights a turf replacement project completed at the Rancho San Diego HOA in the Sweetwater watershed. The new sustainable landscape covers 37,000 sqft and is estimated to save 2.2 million gallons of water each year. 

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