CARMEL, CALIF. -

School is back in session at Carmel High School, but this year it has a new look. The athletic field is now covered with artificial turf. It’s shiny, green, and a big water saver.

“We think we’ll save about 800,000 gallons of water a year,” said Dan Paul, the facilities manager with Carmel Unified School District.

Paul said the new turf will save the school about $20,000 a year. But in order to save in the future, the school has to cash out big up front.

"The total cost of the project is $2.3 million. The turf itself is about $800,000 of that,” said Paul.

Thanks to the Monterey Peninsula Water District, the school will get some financial help. It’s all part of the district’s water use credit program that gives schools the opportunity to save by picking up part of the tab.

Unlike regular grass that gets worn out over time, the artificial turf will last for years. In the end, the school district will save money.

"At the end of every season we would have to do some sod replacement, we seeded a couple of times during the year, mowing two or three times a week,” said Paul.

It’s not just about saving water, it’s also about bringing the school together. To help pay for the new turf, a fundraiser effort, appropriately named "Operation Padre" raised over $600,000.

"Now we can host all of our games here. We're bringing field hockey, lacrosse, and soccer back to the high school,” said Paul.

The water district understands that schools serve many students, and water conservation isn’t usually top priority. The hope here is this new credit program will change that.