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Response Overwhelming for Cary Water Conservation Effort

Hundreds of people are contacting Cary town leaders about new water conservation programs that pay homeowners to save.

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CARY, N.C. — What's the secret to a long-lasting landscape? Keep it simple, says Cary homeowner Jenie Jones.

"You don't see any annuals in the yard this year, because they have to be watered every day," she said.

Most of her yard is mulch. The little grass she has left – she's thinking about getting rid of it all together.

Like hundreds of other Cary residents, Jones is considering the town's new turf buyback program, which will give individual homeowners $500 to rip up at least 1,000 square feet of fescue and replace it with the drought resistant, warm-season grass.

More than 500 people have already contacted town leaders about the program and three other new programs the town is implementing in an effort to save water.

But the Town Council budgeted for 200 people. It's unclear how the town will decide who gets to take advantage of the turf buyback.

"We are trying to work out the details, that is, the most equitable way of applying (it)," Marie Cefalo, water conservation coordinator for the town, said.

For all four programs – the town will spend about $237,000 a year. Another $78,000 will be spent this year on startup – funding town leaders say will be built in to utility costs.

Jones says she's excited about her new landscape option.

"It's definitely something to look into," she said.

Although there's no guarantee, she'll be one of the chosen ones.

"We were not certain with what we were going to get, so we're impressed with what we've received, so far," Cefalo said.

Town leaders say they're still working out the application process for each program. For now, a start date for the turf buyback is set for July 1.