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Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in drought

Posted by Tessiess 9b, SoCal Inland, 12 (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 18:04

Up to $500 per day!!!! That would sure get my attention. I just finished taking out my front lawn and replacing it with drought tolerant plants, mostly natives. While these plants are getting established, they will need regular water, but not as much as the lawn wanted all the time. I didn't know these penalties were coming, but I'm glad I got this project finished beforehand.

Lots of people in my area are taking out lawns and going for drought tolerant landscaping. Lots of native plants. I haven't seen others using roses, but I have some that are quite drought tolerant.

In the new front yard garden, I've put in one rose, Rosa minutifolia 'Pure Bea', which is a white-flowered CA native rose. Goes dormant in the summer without ANY water (can survive many months, once established without it, even during the worst heat of the summer, although it looks like a pile of dead sticks--playing possum it is!). Rosa minutifolia, as the name implies has tiny foliage. It also has many thorns and tends to form a dense mound that is good cover for wildlife (which also like the tasty hips). Doesn't look like a typical rosebush though, it's very primitive looking, more like a thorny fern.

Melissa

Here is a link that might be useful: California drought fines proposed


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Yep, I just read that Lake Mead is at near record low levels and if it drops much more there WILL be necessary reductions in water supply to cities like Las Vegas.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

I tried to grow Minutifolia here, some years ago, but it didn't like my cool, humid conditions.

Of course, as our conditions change, it might eventually be happy, here.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

I wonder what took them so long to get around to this when everyone knew last winter that the snow pack was woefully inadequate, the winter rains were a joke and spring looked like summer in many places. Lawns have no place in our kind of environment, and neither do golf courses unless they recycle their water. It always amazes me when politicians seem to be the last to get the word, which of course has been the case with global warming as a whole. It must be more fun to do something when it's almost too late.

Ingrid


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

After 18 years (of water shortages) in Santa Fe, I came here to VA. After a few months, I realized how much more creative gardening was in Santa Fe. Here, everyone throws out a lawn, lines it with a few foundation shrubs, a crepe myrtle, dogwood or redbud, and a few azaleas and hydrangeas for color and calls it a garden. Houses after house after house... In Santa Fe, you could take an hour just walking down a block looking at what each residence had done. Lots of creative uses of hardscape, micro-zones, careful selection of plants, multi-textured...And I grew lots of roses there--no blackspot, mildew, rust, rrd or jap beetles.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

I think there are large parts of this side of the country than need to address the use of water. But even these proposed fines for non recirculating fountains? Who has one of those? Hosing down sidewalks and driveways? I am sure there are people that do that, but I do not see it often, I have hosed backyard walk down, but all the water goes right in to the bed and never on the street. Same with when we do the work walks, only where we keep our water. Cars? I suppose there are people who let their hoses run but pretty sure they are not where people pay for metered water but instead where they pay a flat fee.

If they really wanted to address the use of water, the politicians should set a max amount of grass for front yard use as a percentage of yard space and the same for the backyards. Should you want more lawn, there should be a way for you to tap in to your towns graywater system. I know the golf courses use gray water but home owners can't tap in to that supply.

On the other hand, a new development swapped land so they could build. They had to create a native wet land grass area. It looks really nice, too bad it was built mostly at the top of the hill and the graywater system is being bypassed and using hydrant water only (fresh water) Flooding this new top of the hill wet lands...... Guess expecting politicians to think logically is not really in the cards


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 10, 14 at 13:31

I'll tell you who has a non-recirculating fountain, Kippy: the City of Livermore. The "Lizzie Fountain" downtown was recently revamped to include even more spouting heads and runs all day long. Because it is used as a play area for children, the water is not recirculated for health reasons. No talk as of yet of shutting it down because of the drought, though there was some noise about limiting its hours (not happening yet that I can see -- every time I drive by it's going full blast). In fact, an article in the local weekly newspaper recently talked about the impetus to keep it running because that's what the local merchants want, as a draw to downtown.

A worse example to set in a time of drought I cannot imagine. The city council recently imposed mandatory restrictions on residences and businesses, but many people, I think, won't really believe there's a drought unless that fountain is shut down.

Lawns not only take a lot of water, relatively, but even worse their automatic irrigation systems frequently water the sidewalk more than the lawn, it seems. A common, horrible sight around here is water flowing like a river in the gutters from someone's sloppy lawn irrigation system.

I won't get started on the issues and idiocies of mitigation wetlands and other created habitats -- I could rant on for pages on that topic.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lizzie Fountain


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

We have neighbors who send gallons of water running down the Lane. They seem to think that perfect green lawns are important. (I don't.)

I can honestly say that not a drop of water leaves our property. In fact, when we DO get rain, no runoff leaves our property.

One other neighbor cares about that. Just one. :-(


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Being water-wise is always the way to go; but bear with me: I would like to see a chart comparing water usage and, if there's a way of measuring it, water wastage of such categories as Residential, Commercial-Industrial excluding Agriculture, Commercial Agriculture, Governmental excluding Military (perhaps broken down into separate City/County/State/Federal sub-categories), and Military. I have a strong suspicion that, while those in the Residential category might be quite prone to wastage, their water usage and thus their water wastage is minuscule compared to the water usage and water wastage of the other categories. And yet Residential always becomes the whipping-boy. When lawmakers start discussing fines on residents, we citizens should be peppering them with the question, "And what are you doing about the categories which use and waste much larger amounts of water than we common folks ever do?"


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Of COURSE that has to be addressed!

But I'd like very much to see it addressed in some manner OTHER than cutting off all water to farms. I think your idea of assessing WASTED water in those settings (just as they're talking of doing in residential) should be a key element.

BUT STILL --- I really resent seeing water flooding down our Lane, in a stream 3-ft. wide.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

I don't blame your for that one Jeri. If it was streaming like that down our street and on my side, I would be wishing I could scoop that up. Except I bet they also use a variety of things I don't want in my yard.

Odinthor. That would be really interesting and I bet very telling. I feel for the farmers but I also see that some should also work on environmentally friendly ways to grow and manage water. Flooding fields to grow crops not meant to grow in ca is not the best idea

Cats I can see why that type of water feature should not recirculate. But it should also have fewer spouts for drought seasons and limited hours.

Hearst castle is closing down their bathrooms and replacing with porta potties. Yes they will save water but what about the added water used to process the waste in the porta potties and their hose down way of cleaning. Seems like a away for one to proclaim reduction when there is no actual net reduction.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

K-t-H alludes to looking at the larger picture; and this brings up something which those who jump a little too quickly on the bandwagon either don't consider or don't find it politic to mention: Pests. Because I have been a xerophyte enthusiast even longer than I have been a rose enthusiast (and we're talking about half a century), I was well ahead of the curve by about two decades in planning and beginning to implement xeriscaping at my home. Aloes, Agaves, Sedums, Cacti, and so on--mmm, yummy! I was only too happy to have reason to make them a major part of my landscaping. I began a program of replacing portions of my parkway lawn with beds intended for succulents; and indeed the beds at length were all constructed, bit by bit--oh, my aching back!--such that about half of the parkway lawn is gone. But let me tell you what happens when you replace once-a-week watered lawn with once-a-summer watered succulents: You provide our little six-legged friends the Ants (to mention just one pest) with their hearts' desire--perfect conditions to expand their network of nests. As I need tell no one, Ants do all sorts of mischief, and the outcome of giving them an opportunity to enlarge their empire is that you give yourself the mandate of trying to control them. In short, what you gain for the environment in saving water, you lose for the environment in spreading pesticides (if you try to control them), or harm to your food or plants (if you let them have their way), not to mention the stress of it all. Journalists, activists, and politicians who have the attitude of "save water and save the world" are being very naïve.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

  • Posted by catspa NoCA Z9 Sunset 14 (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 17:14

Odinthor makes a good point above, about ag water and waste versus residential. In typical years, agriculture uses approximately 80% of the water available in California while residential use accounts for about 12%. Thus, if ag were just 15% more efficient in their use of water, enough would be saved to more or less equal all of residential use.

Prior to this year, which confirmed beyond doubt the severity of this drought, I would get really ticked at calls for all to conserve water when ag accounted for so much use and, if they saved even a pittance (e.g., not growing water-intensive crops that are absurd to grow in CA, like cotton and rice, using anything more efficient for water delivery than flood irrigation...), it would make a huge difference.

But this year, even agriculture is suffering, having been largely cut off by the federal and state water agencies. The extent of their suffering has been made worse because of the expansion of ag acreage allowed in the giddy years following the El Nino of 1997-98 by the CA Water Resources Board over-promising deliveries and increasing pumping out of the Sacramento Delta by something like 50%. That was halted to some extent by legal judgements a few years ago restoring delta flows for the delta smelt and for salmon runs, but now the drought has cut the farmers' supplies even further.

So, this year and in this situation, I'm doing my best to significantly cut my own water use (not going to be so many repeat blooms in the farther, steeper parts of the garden, for sure), but I sure hope to see a gain in efficiencies in ag use in the future, not just whining about how people put fish ahead of farmers (with no mention, by the way, for the plights of fishermen).

And, yes, there are the ants. Their tunneling is annoying and damaging enough, per se, but then they go and actively husband other pests, like scale and mealybugs, on their own little ranches and farms, using my plants as fodder for their livestock. Very galling!

This post was edited by catspa on Fri, Jul 11, 14 at 17:17


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Good info, catspa!

And just to add my own watering strategy: As soon as the first real heat wave comes, usually in mid-July (so any day now), I give up trying to keep the lawn green, and just am satisfied with keeping it alive. (And keep in mind that I hardly water the lawn at all from mid-November through about April.) In regular drought years, this means watering the lawn only once every two weeks; in severe drought years, this means watering the front lawn only once every two weeks, and the back lawn only once every four weeks; in mandated restriction years, both lawns only once every four weeks. The ornamentals in the borders get the privilege of water once a week normally, and, even in the worst conditions, at least once every two weeks (beauty has its privileges!).

Some might be wondering what happened with my succulent ant-attracting parkway beds. The plantings in them are now really tough perennials for the most part: xerophytic Labiatae (Lavenders, Saturejas, Marrubiums, Salvias, etc.), Iris, Daylilies, Alyssum saxatile, Scabiosas, Ruta odorata, with some Roses ('Sunshine', 'Lullaby', 'Tip-Top' or 'Baby Doll', 'Elizabeth Navarro', 'Pied Piper'). These can go just fine without water for two weeks (or more!), if necessary.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Kippy's right, that the water running down the street is full of things I don't want in my garden . . . everything from poisons laid down by gophers to weed-killers and high nitrogen lawn fertilizers, not to mention chlorine.

But I still hate to see it wasted.


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Absolutely, Jeri--water wasters, whatever their proportion of water usage in the State, are being arrogant, and I'm tempted to call them sociopaths too. Each person has an obligation to Society to do his or her reasonable part to conserve!


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

I want to say thank you to all who have shown more common sense about the water issues in our state than our elected representatives. It felt good to read this thread.

I live in a County-of-Origin for water in our state and what we seem to hear about our state water issues is "We're taking your water because we need it."

Of course, there is no mention that taking our water will no doubt impact our economy. There are fewer of us, so we don't count. Nor is there any concern that water reserves are vital to fight wildfires, but, of course, since we live in a natural wildfire area, we are charged a fee to pay for CalFire.

Ingrid made a very valid point about our politicians. They don't have a real clue about the real issues we face in this state.


Odinthor ....

I think you need to add residential development to your analysis. How many new developments without an identified source of water have been put in place in the last three years ? the last 10 years ? How many are planned for next year ?

"water wasters, whatever their proportion of water usage in the State, are being arrogant, and I'm tempted to call them sociopaths too. Each person has an obligation to Society to do his or her reasonable part to conserve!"

I agree 100% and thank you for speaking up.

Now, if we can only convince the politicians and developers .... nah .. they don't have a clue about the scope of the problem.

Lyn


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Odinthor,

As to the ants: I have used an ant bait named Terro which has been very effective at keeping the ants out of my fig trees and house and patio as well. (The ants can fill the inside of a fig in no time making them disgustingly useless.) The active ingredients are boric acid and sugar and so not harmful to the environment. I had tried other ant baits with little success but this one I recommend highly.

Cath

P.S. Did you ever get that lonesome rose propagated?


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Cath, yes, thanks, Terro is my product of choice with ants, and it's wonderfully effective. I use the dust version (the ants have learned to ignore the other forms). Watering is actually part of the process, as watering forces the ants to swarm, which is just the time to dust 'em--you can bet I'm paying microscopic attention to the ground when I'm watering. After a zero tolerance campaign of about six years, I can state that it has been three years since I've had any ant trouble inside the house; and there's a minimum of activity outside.

I'm afraid I haven't done anything further with the sole existing specimen of 'Gustavus Vasa' yet. I guess I'd better get moving on that issue!


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Where I live in Marin County, CA we are lucky that almost all of our water is sourced locally, from reservoirs on Mt. Tamalpias. We had so much rain in Feb and March this year that they tell us the reservoirs are still to date at "90% of average for this date". Just lucky, obviously. So, we have no mandatory water restrictions at all, although some voluntary cutbacks have been requested. We are still using our irrigation system (no rain will fall here until Oct at the earliest). We did carefully review it, and made sure that all of the drip and soaker hose (I like those miniature soaker hoses - no spray at all) systems were working properly. We did find one humungous leak, which the water company did reimburse us for ($1,500!) after we found it and hired a plumber to help my DH dig 3 feet down in the muck to cap it - old gardens have old (this one was est at over 90 yrs old) & deep water pipes! It turned out that the one which was leaking had been "abandoned" over 50 years ago, but the seal failed eventually, and it was on a direct line from our meter, running at full pressure 24/7, until it flooded a flower bed and we noticed.

Another related topic - our neighborhood had a meeting with the Fire Dept last summer to discuss plantings. Our neighborhood is old, covered with huge old trees, and very hilly - just like the neighborhoods in Oakland that had that horrific wild fire. Our Fire Dept is particularly worried about drought tolerant plantings that contain a lot of flammable resins, like juniper, bamboo, eucalyptus, etc., or are very flammable such as tall grasses. They evidently explode in fires!
Many of the California native plants that are so popular right now have the same problems. That makes sense, as they evolved to not need water during our "normal" 8 months with no rain each year. Anyway, the Fire Dept suggested that any garden plantings near the house be ones that were green and well watered! They like lawns, if they are mowed, green and damp! Our town has even passed a law outlawing certain drought tolerant plants such as juniper because of the fire risk they pose.

It is a conundrum. So, for now we are keeping our extensive garden, with the beds near the house well watered. None of our irrigation water runs off our property, although the huge amount of storm water does during the winter rains. The problem then, in a normal year, is flooding - the huge storm drains on our street have trouble keeping up with rainstorms that drop 1-2 inches a day for 4 days in a row..

We are hopeful that this next winter will be more normal, and that we will be worrying about street flooding. However, we do understand that this weather change may be more permanent, in which case we will have to figure out something (hopefully other than concrete and plastic plants) to do that does not increase the fire risk.

Nothing is ever as simple as it appears at first!

Jackie


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Jackie, succulents, cacti and yuccas ( if kept clean of dry foliage) are all both water thrifty and pretty fire retardant. A hedge of prickly pear for example is both fire retardant and intruder proof. Vines like trachelospermum, campsis, tecomaria and the like are pretty draught tolerant once established and are considered pretty fire retardant also. Pistacia lentiscus is one evergreen extremely drought tolerant bush (as long as it receives winter rain), native in the Med, which is considered fire retardant also.
Nik

This post was edited by nikthegreek on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 0:37


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

In fact, in earlier times, Prickly pear cactus was planted in rows, to make living fencing. If you know prickly pear, you know that it can become immense, and impenetrable -- put your livestock behind a prickly pear fence, and they're not going to break out, that's for sure.

Our native chaparral WILL burn (as we know, from various wildfires) but prickly pear can survive almost anything, and rebound.

Our coastal oaks are somewhat fire-tolerant. Eucalyptus, though, is for sure a huge fire hazard. It can also become dangerous in windstorms, if not trimmed regularly. And you don't want to see an avocado orchard burn . . .


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Another fire retardant and drought tolerant evergreen tree that comes to mind is carob as long as the fallen debris is cleared off the ground. Olive trees will also be slow to catch fire but if they do they will then slowly burn for days. I read somewhere that the pepper tree Schinus molle is fire retardant but somehow I doubt it. Speaking of orchards, citrus are fire retardant as far as I know but of course they are far from drought tolerant.
Nik


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

In The GAP fire that raged by us a few years back, the fire dept said it was the lemon and avo orchards that save us from the fire making a run for the city

I noticed the new wetlands made the mud swallows happy. Lol that condo association is really going to have issues due to that and their plantings. Of course by Monday the mud nests were all washed away. But they will be back.....


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

When I had the CalFire crew out here doing fuel reduction work, they told me that almost all hardwood trees are slow to catch fire.

When I went up to a wildfire area last winter where a fire started by lightening in June of 2008 and had been allowed to burn all summer I could see that many of the oak trees were still alive, but all of the pine and fir were gone.

For me, the blackberries covering a 7' cliff across the road are more of a fire danger than the junipers covering the slope in back of my property. Those junipers have been there since the 1960s and are probably holding the slope in place. The fire crew chief told me that they were the least of my problems, if this area caught fire as fire travels up hill.

It's always something.

Lyn


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Our fire dept posted public service note about clearing. They said the same about oak trees, that they slowed fires and did not blow large embers. They reason the avo and citrus saved us has a lot to do the them burning slower than the dry grass, the access roads are fire breaks and they are irrigated plus the ranchers have water systems set up and they also keep the trees short here for easy picking. If you have ever driven up the coast and see. The "white ghost trees" that is done to bring the height down


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RE: Big fines considered for Californian's overusing water in dro

Avocado orchards DO burn. I've seen it in our area. Don't burn like eucalypts, but they do burn.

We have two "California" Pepper Trees, and I would be quite surprised if they were at all fire retardant. (Though, I think it would be a happy surprise.)


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