Governor Jerry Brown’s recent announcement of mandatory water conservation measures marks a significant change in the state’s approach to promoting water efficiency. To date, urban water managers have relied primarily on voluntary compliance to water saving targets, and on incentives such as rebates, to encourage California residents to use less water during the drought. Urban water managers must now pull together systems for monitoring and enforcing this new statewide mandate to reduce demand for water. One water-use reduction tool available within a growing number of California communities is the HERO Program. The HERO Program allows property owners to make both water- and energy-saving improvements and to pay for them over time through their property taxes.
Although HERO is best known for helping homeowners make energy efficient improvements, it can also be used to fund many of the water-saving improvements Governor Brown called for in his recent announcement, including drip irrigation systems, drought-tolerant landscaping and high efficiency toilets and faucets.
“Our goal is to provide homeowners with affordable financing for projects that will reduce their water usage in their homes and yards by more than 25 percent,” said JP McNeill, CEO of Renovate America, program administrator for the HERO Program.
California’s largest and fastest-growing PACE program, the HERO Program, finances a variety of indoor and outdoor water-saving measures, including whole-home graywater systems and rain catchment systems. HERO is now available to more than 70 percent of California homeowners in almost 300 communities throughout the state, including major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno and San Jose in addition to several locations within Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, Oakdale and Riverbank among them.
“PACE funding can be used for water conserving improvements, which in the face of our severe drought, may be crucial for both homeowners and our state,” noted Ken Alex, senior policy advisor to Governor Brown and director of the State Office of Planning and Research.
Cities and counties need only pass a resolution in order to make PACE programs like HERO available to local property owners.
The HERO program has received the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, the Urban Land Institute Best of the Best and the Southern California Association of Governments President’s Award for Excellence. Taking part in the HERO Program is 100 percent voluntary for both jurisdictions and property owners. The program is cost neutral to participating local governments.
To learn more about the HERO Financing Program, and to apply, property owners can visit www.heroprogram.com or call 855-HERO-411 (855-437-6411).