Industry Leaders & Water Providers Discuss Ways to Incentivize Water Conservation

September 28, 2023

“If you have a creative idea for saving water on your golf course, we have a rebate program for you,” announced the Metropolitan Water District’s (MWD) Gary Tilkian at last week’s golf and water networking session in downtown Los Angeles, where leaders of the golf community met with leaders of MWD, Los Angeles Water & Power, Long Beach Water & Power, and other water providers to collaborate on ways to further reduce the game’s water footprint.

Formally called the “Water Savings Investment Program” (WISP), the MWD program differs from traditional rebate programs in that it is performance based. You don’t get paid up front. You get paid as you demonstrate that your “creative idea” saves water.

How the program works:

  • The application must be approved before the project is deployed or installed to ensure funding eligibility.
  • Projects must save at least 10 million gallons of water over ten years.
  • Projects cannot be new construction.
  • Customers require at least three years of water use history to establish a baseline before the project is deployed.
  • Projects cannot replace potable water with another water source as a water-saving method.

Los Angeles Water & Power (LADWP) has a parallel program it calls its “Technical Assistance Program” or TAP for short. At the networking session LADWP Conservation Manager Mark Gentili explained the program the way his agency explains it on its website.

“Sometimes one size doesn’t fit all. Commercial, industrial, institutional, and multi-family customers may benefit from a customized approach to reducing their water use and costs. . . The program offers up to $2,000,000 in financial incentives for pre-approved equipment and products that demonstrate water savings.”

As SCGA Public Affairs Director Craig Kessler explained at the event, “once a golf course upgrades its irrigation system, removes turf, replaces nozzles, and pursues the investments for which traditional rebates and financial incentives are available, it runs out of cards to play in a game of water footprint reduction that golf has to keep playing if it hopes to thrive in an environment in which supplies from the Sierra Nevada are subject to wide swings and supplies from the Colorado River are guaranteed to be significantly curtailed.”

The SCGA helped organize this networking session to help spread the word; there are customized, golf specific programs that major water agencies are eager to work with golf to craft and then fund. To that end, the session was capped off by a presentation to Brentwood CC of a 1st installment of what is “on track” to eventually be a $67,000.00 rebate for a soil-based conservation program that is anything but “traditional” to the golf industry.

Many of MWD’s retailers– e.g., LADWP – offer parallel “performance based” incentives, which allows a golf course to receive additional monies for the same program – double dip as it were.

The session was sufficiently successful that MWD has decided to take the same show on the road to San Diego County to join forces with the San Diego County Water Authority, San Diego Public Utilities, and whatever other MWD member agencies care to participate to share the same good news about these programs. The SCGA will certainly do what it can to help coordinate, facilitate, and advertise the event.

For more information about the MWD program go to For further information about the LADWP program go to If you’re reading this from San Diego County, stay tuned. The SCGA will keep you informed.

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