- Associated Press - Thursday, July 9, 2015

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A program that pays homeowners and businesses to replace lawns with drought-friendly landscaping has proven so popular that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is halting new applications.

The water district’s board more than quadrupled its $100 million conservation budget in late May as residents statewide tried to find ways to meet the 25 percent water use reduction set down by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The district pays applicants $2 for each square foot of turf removed. Rebates have been awarded to projects that removed more than 150 million square feet of turf.

Water district general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said the $450 million budget couldn’t keep up with the rebate program’s increasing popularity among customers.

People and businesses will still get money as long as they applied before the end of Thursday, district spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt said. The water provider is still offering rebates for other water conservation measures, such as installing low-flow toilets.

The district is a wholesaler that sells water to local agencies that have over 19 million customers, including those serving Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County.

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