You are now in Education category.

The San Diego County Water Authority's Sustainable Landscaping offers examples of plant choices for our region. Photo: SDCWA

Free WaterSmart Landscaping Class Series Returns in March

Participants receive expert advice and develop a personalized landscape plan

Looking for a way to spruce up your yard and trim water use at the same time? The San Diego County Water Authority is here to help with two new sessions of the four-part WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series starting in March.

These free, award-winning and interactive classes teach the steps for successfully converting high-water-use turf areas to WaterSmart landscapes during four classes over consecutive weeks. Participants learn from local landscape professionals about soil, project planning and design, turf removal, plant selection, irrigation, efficiency and rainwater harvesting. Each series culminates with experts helping homeowners create personalized landscape makeover plans.

The first class begins March 5 at the Water Authority’s headquarters in Kearny Mesa. Another four-part series, also at the Kearny Mesa facility, begins March 28. Each class is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Preregistration and a commitment to attend all four classes in the series is required. Applicants must also identify existing turf areas to remove at their homes and have in-ground, working irrigation systems to qualify.

Class details and an online application form are at Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis; applicants may join a waitlist if their desired session is full.

“Participants rave about how these classes not only instruct, but inspire them to do more with their yards by enhancing their landscapes while increasing water-use efficiency,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Since the landscape makeover series began in April 2014, participants have cut their average household water use by about a third because of their WaterSmart landscape upgrades.”

The class series is recommended – but not required – for residents interested in following guidelines set by the Sustainable Landscapes Program. The grant-funded partnership, known as the SLP, was created by the Water Authority, the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, the Surfrider Foundation, the California American Water Company and the Association of Compost Producers. The SLP promotes landscape upgrades that comply with a more rigorous set of design criteria than other turf replacement programs. It includes climate-appropriate plants and high-efficiency irrigation equipment, rainwater capture and detention features, and soil amendments to improve water efficiency. The Water Authority recently installed the Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa headquarters at 4677 Overland Ave. in San Diego. Visitors to the demonstration garden can view a practical, beautiful landscape that applies SLP principles that can be replicated at their homes.

A limited number of SLP incentives remain to help qualified applicants receive up to $1.75 per square foot toward eligible project costs for upgrading 500 to 3,000 square feet of existing turf areas to sustainable landscapes. For more information about the SLP, including program resources and incentives, go to

In addition to the four-class series, the Landscape Makeover Program offers free, three-hour WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshops – a popular first step toward implementing water-efficient landscapes. The workshops provide an introduction to skills and resources needed for a landscape makeover. The Water Authority, in partnership with its member agencies, will hold workshops in February, March and April at locations around the county. Workshop locations, times and registration details are at

Residents who want to learn more about the makeover process from the comfort of their homes can view the Landscape Makeover Videos on Demand at Those videos provide content that is similar to the workshops and class series in an online format for easy access.


WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series

Upcoming Four-Class Series

March 5, 12, 19 and 26
March 28, April 4, 11 and 18

Classes are held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Water Authority’s Kearny Mesa headquarters,
4677 Overland Ave.

For details and to apply:

California Pushes The Envelope on Energy Storage with New Pumped Hydro Proposal

If the blowup over President Trump’s new solar tariff proves anything, it proves that the renewable energy transition is inevitable. A new hydroelectricity project for the City of San Diego, California is a case in point. The city recently raised the level of an existing hydropower dam to hold more water, and now it is considering a massive new energy storage element that would help the grid support more wind and solar power.

Drought Deja Vu: California Snowpack At 30 Percent Of Normal

Yosemite’s Half Dome saw a picturesque dusting of snow this past week while skiers in Tahoe welcomed a shot of fresh powder. Yet California’s Sierra Nevada is plunging deeper into a warm, dry winter that shows little sign of a turnaround. Mile-high mountainsides were low on snow Monday and alpine skies remained a stubborn summer blue. The forecast called for above-average temperatures and virtually no precipitation through at least the first 10 days of February — the third and final month of the state’s peak wet season.

Helix Water District checks in with Customers

Helix Water District customers like the service they’re getting, are mindful of water conservation, believe the water they get is a good value for what they pay, and like the taste of the water they’re drinking from their taps. East County customers also like Lake Jennings and The Water Conservation Garden, according to Probe Research, Inc., a company that was paid $21,700 to conduct a customer survey for Helix.

Jerry Brown’s Two Big Public-Works Projects Are Foundering

During his second governorship, Jerry Brown has frequently touted big public-works projects as the mark of a great society—a marked change from his first stint four decades ago, when “small is beautiful” and “lower your expectations” were his oft-voiced themes. He did it again last week, effusively plugging two major public works, twin water tunnels and a high-speed rail network, during his final State of the State address.

DWR Increases Water Allocations By 5 Percent

State Water Project contractors got a slight uptick Monday in the amount of water they will be getting this year. The Department of Water Resources increased the allocation from the 15 percent announced in December to 20 percent of the amount of water requested. The allocations always start low, and usually rise as the rainy season continues and calculations of the water supply firm up.


A battle over a U.S. brewery in Mexicali

Amajor U.S. beer manufacturer’s decision to build a giant production plant in Baja California’s desert capital has been cause for much celebration in Gov. Francisco Vega de Lamadrid’s administration. But not everybody is applauding. Constellation Brands, maker of Modelo and Corona beers, finds itself in the crossfire of a bitter dispute. On one side are government officials who are vowing to see the project through; on the other, opponents determined to shut it down, saying the plant will use a large amount of water that should go to local farmers.

Specter Of Drought Looms As California’s Weather Turns Dry Again

The storms have passed and California’s dry winter has returned, raising the specter that the state could be entering another drought less than a year after the last one officially ended. After a brief spell of rain and snow improved California’s water conditions last week, the National Weather Service said Monday it’s forecasting at least two weeks of dry weather. A strong high-pressure ridge has settled over the Pacific Ocean. The ridge will block any storms from reaching the state, and “is going to stick around for a while,” said Michelle Mead, a weather service meteorologist in Sacramento.

OPINION: What Is The Benefit Of Sites Reservoir?

Last week, state regulators released their initial findings for potential dam and reservoir projects that could receive funds from Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond passed by voters in 2014 in response to California’s record drought. The bond was approved with the promise of at least $2.7 billion for increased water storage but based on what was released last week, none of the projects that applied met the criteria for this money. Water agencies were alarmed when the results were released and many were caught off guard.

SoCal Saved A Record Amount Of Water Last Year Thanks To Torn-Out Lawns

That’s a year’s supply for two million households. MWD’s report says most of the water savings were accomplished through using less outdoors, as drought-tolerant landscaping replaced turf lawns, and smart timers controlled sprinklers to not overwater. Our low-flow toilets and super-efficient washing machines saved water indoors. The agency spent about $45 million in 2017 on rebates, education programs and ads to encourage conservation.