Scottsdale man questions city's turf removal rebate program

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Neal Gelb likes keeping a nice lawn in the front and in the back yards of his home. He says he does it for his pets.

"Yea, the backyard is important to us," Neal tells 3 On Your Side.  

"We have two dogs that are very active. One of our dogs likes to play frisbee."

But keeping his grass looking green uses a lot of water.

He says, "Anyone who has a lawn knows what's involved, and the water consumption."

So, to cut down on water consumption, Neal had his backyard lawn completely removed and replaced with synthetic turf which is basically "fake grass" and requires no water.

As an incentive, the City of Scottsdale reimburses homeowners like Neal who make such a transition because of course, fake grass would save city water.

Neal says he liked the program right away saying, "When I found out about the City's rebate, I thought, this is a great way to offset the expense."

Neal decided to install his fake grass and Scottsdale gave him $275.

However, Scottsdale would have given him $550, double the amount, if he also would have added low-water use plants or shrubs.

Neal thought there was a mistake, saying why would he get a lower rebate for using absolutely no water.

"I not only have low water use, I have have "no water use," he says.

3 On Your Side discovered that Scottsdale residents get rewarded more if they install a landscape that uses a little bit of water, instead synthetic turf which uses no water at all.

Annie DeChance is a spokesperson for Scottsdale Water Resources and tells us, "We really are in the desert and it's important that we do conserve water and every drop really does count."

However, Annnie says that Scottsdale believes synthetic turf produces heat from the sun, it has to be replaced every 8 years, and it's made from plastics and chemicals that might be harmful.

Overall, she says it's just not good for the environment.

"It's better for the environment to have living breathing plants in our backyard it's part of the ecosystem," Annie says. "It attracts wildlife."

But, Neal laughs, and asks why is the water department concerned about attracting wildlife? 

He says they should be more concerned with conserving water, which is supposed to be the point of the rebate.

"This doesn't make sense."

If you're interested in learning more about the Scottsdale Rebate Program, you can find information at this website: Single-Family Residential Turf Removal Rebate.

If you don't live in Scottsdale, other municipalities have similiar programs.  Check with your city for details.