Water Savings Incentive Program

Frequently Asked Questions

How are Incentives calculated?

Incentives are based on the measured amount of water saved by the project. Customers can receive up to $0.60 per 1,000 gallons saved per year over the project life for a maximum of 10 years.

All incentives are limited to 50% of eligible project costs. Eligible costs are those directly related to the project implementation. Customers will work with SoCalWater$mart to determine the eligible costs for their specific project. Examples of eligible costs are:

  • Audits
  • Engineering designs
  • Construction
  • Materials
  • Contracted water services
  • Third party labor
  • Plant material or synthetic turf
  • Freight or shipping of project materials
  • Hardware or software

Costs that are not directly related to project implementation are not eligible. Examples of costs that are not eligible include:

  • Land acquisition
  • Permitting
  • Tax
  • Environmental documentation
  • Mitigation of environmental impacts

What is the current status of the Water Savings Incentive Program?

The SoCal Water$mart Water Savings Incentive Program (WSIP) is currently available! SoCal Water$mart implements this program on behalf of The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan). Metropolitan reserves the right to modify WSIP policies or change the WSIP program rules, terms and conditions without prior notice. Metropolitan reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to reject any project proposals. Funding for this program is limited and submitting an application does not guarantee the customer will receive an incentive. Incentives will be reserved for projects on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

Is the Water Savings Incentive Program a rebate or a grant?

Neither: Rebates are generally standard incentives for particular devices or technologies with established water savings provided to customers after device installation. Grants are typically funds provided to a recipient to fund a project or process or development. The WSIP is a “pay-for-performance” incentive that provides monetary incentives for saving measured amounts of water. The rate the incentive is paid is up to $0.60/1,000 gallons of water saved. Payments are usually phased: a percentage of the estimated total incentive may be provided to the customer upon project installation or implementation; the balance is paid after one year of monitoring the actual water use and verifying water savings compared to the pre-project use.

Is anyone eligible for WSIP incentives?

No: The program is open to all commercial, industrial, institutional, agricultural and large landscape customers with qualifying projects within Metropolitan’s 5,200 square mile service area. Single family residential customers are not eligible for WSIP incentives.

What kinds of projects are eligible for WSIP funding?

Just about any project that allows a water-using process to do so more efficiently (using less water) may be eligible. Some examples are:

  • Replacement of older, less water-efficient equipment with new commercial and industrial equipment that is more water-efficient
  • Installation of new water-efficient commercial and industrial equipment for an existing setting, facility, or operation that will help minimize water demand from new construction or industrial process expansion
  • Comprehensive changes made to an industrial process that will improve water use efficiency by reducing water consumption per unit of output
  • Improvements to existing irrigation systems and plant material changes to improve water use efficiency for agricultural operations and large landscapes on a minimum of one (1) acre
  • Water management services that may include new equipment, materials, and horticultural practices to improve water use efficiency

Are there certain kinds of projects that are not eligible for WSIP funding?

Yes: Eligibility is determined at Metropolitan’s sole discretion, based on current industry standards or technical or financial assumptions. Most of the time a project is ineligible if it is new construction, has already been installed, or is “offsetting” potable water use with a different source (recycled, well, etc). Ineligible projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • New construction
  • Projects that are outside Metropolitan’s service area
  • Projects involving only the installation of devices for which Metropolitan offers rebates (through SoCal Water$mart)
  • Projects to connect to a municipal recycled water system or convert a potable water system to use recycled water from a municipal supplier (projects to reduce industrial wastewater by capturing, treating and reusing the process water are eligible)
  • Agricultural land fallowing, or replacing a permanent crop with non-permanent or row crops (projects to modify and retain an existing permanent crop are eligible)
  • Water management service projects that will be implemented by customer or its employees
  • Projects that are residential in nature, unless implemented for common areas of multifamily and common interest developments (e.g. HOA initiated projects may be eligible)
  • Projects estimated to save less than 10,000,000 gallons of water
  • Projects that do not demonstrate potential for water savings
  • Projects that offset potable water supplies by using alternate, non-potable, non-municipal, or previously unused supplies (e.g. private wells, remediated groundwater, etc)

How is the water savings calculated or verified?

Projects must have a minimum three (3) year water use history to establish the baseline water use and water efficiency performance. Existing conditions and equipment that are required to establish the baseline must be operating and available for inspection. The average water use for the three prior years becomes the baseline against which the post-implementation water use is measured. Project performance must be better than the baseline water use and/or applicable water efficiency standards required by federal, state or local laws, ordinances or codes when operational.

How long must a project be in operation to qualify for WSIP incentives?

Projects must operate for at least five (5) years unless it is a Water Management Project (see below). The project must produce water savings for the effective useful life of the improvement or for a period of ten (10) years, whichever is less.

What if my project has a pre-determined useful life that is less than 10 years?

Projects must operate for at least five (5) years unless it is a Water Management Project (see below). The project must produce water savings for the effective useful life of the improvement – if it is less than 10 years, the maximum incentive will be calculated for the expected life of the project.

How do you define Water Management Services?

Projects that are using Water Management Services are utilizing third party management services to operate, oversee, administer or otherwise manage water use for specified processes on the customer’s site. Projects must include contractual services for water management; the customer’s direct labor costs are not eligible project costs. Projects must have a minimum one (1) year contract term and the resulting performance must show reduced water use compared to the baseline. Incentives are based upon the water savings achieved above and beyond baseline water efficiency performance during the service period specified (the monitoring period). Successful projects may be eligible to receive WSIP funding for up to four (4) additional years, subject to approval, funding availability, and submission of a copy of the management services contract to verify the remaining year(s) on the contract.

The WSIP incentive is limited to 50% of Eligible project costs. What are the eligible project costs?

Eligible costs may include:

  • Audits
  • Contracted water management services
  • Design and engineering
  • Third party labor
  • Construction
  • Landscape plant material
  • Equipment and materials
  • Synthetic turf
  • Hardware, software
  • Agricultural plant material (permanent crop)
  • Freight, shipping
  • Horticultural practices (e.g. mulching)

Costs that do not directly pertain to project installation or water management services, as determined at Metropolitan’s sole discretion, are not eligible. Land acquisition, permitting, and environmental documentation, mitigation and compliance costs are not eligible.

What is the Single payment Option?

SoCal Water$mart may offer customers a Single Payment Option if their project is deemed eligible. Your project may be eligible if if the lifetime water savings is less than 150 million gallons and/or where monitoring may be infeasible or unavailable. These projects are evaluated based on qualified audits, engineering designs or reports, historic water use with existing equipment, and other project-specific information. For these projects, a single payment is made after project installation and a post-installation inspection to ensure project operation. Example: replacing water-cooled equipment with air-cooled retrofits. In lieu of monitoring, the incentive is based upon engineering plans or other specifications to determine water savings. However, please note that the incentive rate is slightly lower for these projects ($0.46 per 1,000 gallons saved per year). SoCal Water$mart shall determine project eligibility for this option in consultation with Metropolitan.

What if my project saves less water than estimated?

After the monitoring period, the monitored water use will be compared to the baseline. If a project underperforms (but still saves water) the final payment may be prorated to match the observed (actual) water savings. The proration is applied to the entire (up to 10 years’ worth) incentive, not just the monitored year.

What if my project saves more water than estimated?

While this is laudable, the maximum incentive authorized prior to project implementation cannot be exceeded.

What if my project takes longer to install or get operational than estimated?

In the event that the project has not been implemented and/or the required documentation is not received within the approved time period (including any provided extensions), SoCal Water$mart or Metropolitan may terminate an existing WSIP funding commitment. Customers should contact SoCal Water$mart as soon as possible if they experience unanticipated project delays or other issues affecting their project implementation.

How do I obtain my water use records?

You do not have to. By signing an application and agreeing to the terms of the WSIP, you allow SoCal Water$mart or Metropolitan to ask your retail water provider for those records; SoCal Water$mart may also make the request on your behalf. Metropolitan may also request your water use records for up to 6 years after your project has been implemented to verify that the project is still performing as anticipated.

Are my water use records confidential?

As Metropolitan’s agent, SoCal Water$mart collects data necessary to conform to WSIP policy. That data becomes the property of Metropolitan, and Metropolitan is subject to the Public Records Act (PRA), California Government Code Section 6250 et. seq., However, information exempt from public disclosure under Gov. Code § 6254 includes “trade secrets” under Evidence Code § 1060. Some types of personal data collected may be exempt from the PRA. Upon completion of its evaluation of the application, SoCal Water$mart will return any submitted information to the applicant designated as confidential by the applicant, or, upon the request of the applicant, destroy the designated information.

What constitutes a Qualified Irrigation Audit?

A Qualified Irrigation Audit is an engineering report or vendor proposal with equipment and material specifications, current and proposed irrigation and/or landscape plan, estimated costs, project water meter information, water use history, baseline and proposed irrigated acreage, and water savings calculations. A qualified irrigation audit must be prepared by a qualified agricultural or landscape irrigation specialist, such as a Resource Conservation District auditor; local, state or federal agricultural specialist; California Registered Agricultural Engineer; Agricultural Irrigation Specialist certified by the Irrigation Association; Landscape Irrigation Auditor certified by the Irrigation Association; California Landscape Contractors Association Certified Water Manager; or EPA WaterSense® Irrigation Partner.

What constitutes an Engineering Report?

An Engineering report may be a set of project specifications and/or schematics, or a vendor proposal with equipment specifications, estimated costs, water meter information, water use history, and water savings calculations. Engineering reports should bear the license and/or seal of a practicing engineer.