Mar 3, 2009

I Hate Being Right About This

Rain or no rain, it's officially a drought emergency. I hate being right about things like this.

So: are you ready to cut your water consumption by 20%? Even before you kill your lawn, schedule a house call: water agencies in San Francisco, the East Bay, Redwood City, and most* of Santa Clara County offer free basic inspections that calculate water usage and point out opportunities for conservation both indoors and out. Santa Clara Valley Water District also is hosting a "Water Efficient Landscaping Workshop Series" including one of my favorite local designers, Alrie Middlebrook.

*California Water Service doesn't offer house calls, but does offer free fixtures and other resources for their customers in Los Altos, Los Altos HIlls, Menlo Park, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, San Carlos, San Mateo and South San Francisco.

And if you want to get an in-depth analysis of your landscape water use, contact a certified irrigation contractor, who will put your system through its paces and really optimize it according to detailed, standardized guidelines.

The prospect of reducing our water use by 1/5 is about as cheering as the stock market these days. But if you've been considering changing up your landscape, this is an opportunity to do it right — and perhaps even get paid for it! With a little professional advice, you can wind up with a yard that is easy on the eyes, easy on the wallet, and easy on the earth as well.


Ewa said...

I must admit, that when I read this I get very very sad, cos it makes me believe, that this is result of global warming.
On the other hand when I think about amount of lawns and its watering need, I start to consider, that maybe now water consumption will get more rational?

John said...

Ewa, I'm not smart enough to say whether it's global warming or not; three years isn't a very long period and could well be an anomaly. (However, I have said I think this is our "normal" and the others were just wet periods.)

In the gas "crisis" six months ago, we learned that prices essentially had to double to begin changing peoples' behaviors. When will water rates double? Never, because that would kill CA's agribusiness. And there's no infrastructure in place to meter different usages (e.g. household, commercial, irrigation) differently. So I think we're going to be limited to these relatively weak voluntary cutbacks that are very difficult to enforce. (Ultimately there will be penalty fees for exceeding certain usage points, but we're not there yet.)

Ironically, I think the biggest impediment to conservation right now is the rain: we look outside and figure, it's been wet for a week, the drought must be over. I don't think my clients will understand the severity of the problem for another six months, when their lawns finally burn out. By then it will be too late to replant without supplemental irrigation, so there are going to be a lot of bad-looking yards until next winter when the rains start up again.