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Quantifying the Multiplier Effect of Southern California’s Turf Removal Rebate Program with Time‐Series Aerial Imagery
Journal of the American Water Resources Association  (IF3.202),  Pub Date : 2020-12-30, DOI: 10.1111/1752-1688.12901
Andrew Marx

From 2014 to 2016, water agencies in Southern California provided more than $350 million in rebates to owners who converted their turf to drought‐tolerant landscaping. In order to provide a fuller understanding of the water savings of this program, this study establishes that there was a behavioral contagion, or a multiplier effect, from rebate participants in the program. An imagery‐based, time‐series analysis of 20 Southern California neighborhoods from 2012 to 2018 was performed to detect what parcels converted their lawns without a rebate and how they were spatially correlated with rebate participants. This correlation was then used on almost 55,000 rebate participants to estimate the multiplier benefits for the entire program at 132%. For every 100 rebate participants, the multiplier effect helped contribute to an additional 132 parcels to convert to drought‐tolerant landscaping. This methodology was compared with a previous study in the Irvine Ranch Water District providing similar results. This study provides the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California a better understanding of the water savings per rebate dollar of the Turf Removal Rebate Program as well as providing a robust approach for cities or water agencies to estimate the multiplier effect of their turf rebate programs.