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Hot off the Press: Sustainable Landscaping Guidebooks Available Countywide

Free manuals include photos, diagrams and checklists for environmentally friendly upgrades.

Free copies of a popular guidebook for environmentally friendly landscape upgrades are available to residents countywide starting today, thanks to a second printing of the “San Diego Sustainable Landscape Guidelines” by the San Diego County Water Authority. Homeowners who commit to meeting rigorous sustainable landscaping design standards may also qualify for a financial incentive to help offset project costs.

Residents can pick up the 71-page, spiral-bound books at the front desk of the Water Authority’s Kearny Mesa headquarters, and at 18 other locations in San Diego, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Oceanside, San Marcos, Spring Valley and Bonita. (See location details below.) Quantities are limited, and participants are allowed only one book per household.

The Water Authority and its partners developed the comprehensive Sustainable Landscape Guidelines to help homeowners upgrade their landscapes with climate-appropriate plants, high-efficiency irrigation equipment, rainwater capture and detention features, and soil amendments to improve water efficiency.

The guidebooks – complete with photos, diagrams and checklists for following sustainable landscaping principles – were first published in October 2015, along with an electronic version that is at The principles were then put into practice at the Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at the Water Authority headquarters, 4677 Overland Ave., San Diego. Recent interest in the demonstration garden – which is open to the public for self-guided tours – highlighted a demand for additional hard copies of the books.

“These manuals offer great step-by-step instructions for homeowners to create sustainable showpieces,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Anyone considering a landscape transformation should start with our how-to guide for success, which is tailored to local conditions in San Diego County.”

The guidebook resulted from the Sustainable Landscapes Program, or SLP, a partnership between the Water Authority, the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, the Surfrider Foundation, the California American Water Co. and the Association of Compost Producers. Funds to create the SLP and to print 12,500 copies of the guidebook this winter were provided by a Proposition 84 grant from the California Department of Water Resources.

Residents who comply with the rigorous SLP design criteria, subject to additional terms and conditions, may qualify for 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. Incentives are limited. More information about incentive requirements is at

Besides being available at locations countywide, the guidebooks are provided to participants in the Water Authority’s four-class WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series. These free, award-winning and interactive classes teach participants SLP principles and are held over four consecutive weeks. The Water Authority will host two sessions of the Landscape Makeover Series in March and April. Class details and an application form are at

Free copies of the book are available while supplies last during business hours at the locations below from these participating agencies and organizations:

  • San Diego County Water Authority – 4677 Overland Ave., San Diego
  • City of San Diego
  • Public Utilities Department – 525 B St., Main Floor
  • City Administration Building Lobby – 202 C St.
  • Central Library – 300 Park Blvd.
  • Valencia Park/Malcolm X Branch Library – 5148 Market St.
  • Rancho Peñasquitos Branch Library – 13330 Salmon River Road
  • Sweetwater Authority – 505 Garrett Ave, Chula Vista
  • Water Conservation Garden – 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive W., El Cajon
  • City of Oceanside
  • Civic Center Library – 330 Coast Highway
  • Mission Branch Library – 3861 Mission Ave.
  • Civic Center, Revenue and Cashiering Office – 300-C N. Ditmar St., East Building
  • Civic Center, Water Administration Office – 300 N. Coast Highway, First Floor, South Building
  • Vallecitos Water District – 201 Vallecitos De Oro, San Marcos
  • Otay Water District
  • District office – 2554 Sweetwater Springs Blvd., Spring Valley
  • Southwestern College Library – 900 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista
  • Otay Ranch Branch Library – 2015 Birch Road, Suite #409, Chula Vista
  • Bonita-Sunnyside Branch Library – 4375 Bonita Road, Bonita
  • Salt Creek Recreation Center – 2710 Otay Lakes Road, Chula Vista
  • Heritage Recreation Center – 1381 E. Palomar St., Chula Vista

To view the guidebook and a list of pick-up locations online, go to

OPINION: Californians Voted To Spend Billions On More Water Storage. But State Government Keeps Sitting On The Cash

Good signs: There’s still a lot of water stashed in reservoirs from last year’s abnormally wet winter. And we’ve become better at using less water in our homes and yards. One very bad sign: We haven’t increased our water storage capacity. Government at all levels moves at a glacial pace, especially when it’s trying to deal with the complex and contentious issue of water. Four years ago in the midst of a scary, five-year drought — one of the state’s driest periods in recorded history — voters eagerly approved a $7.5-billion water bond proposal, Proposition 1. The vote was a lopsided 67% to 33%.

Forecasters No Longer Expecting Lots Of Rain In San Diego

It appeared that San Diego would get significant rain two or three times this week, helping to ease a quickly developing drought. But the National Weather Service said Monday that its latest models show the county will remain mostly dry for the rest of the week, and temperatures will rise above average starting on Thursday. “The systems are weakening and dying out when they get down here,” said Steve Harrison, a weather service forecaster.

City Water Bill Mess Puts Attention On The Water Department And Its Lack Of Oversight

City auditors are investigating billing problems at the city’s water department. Water officials have already acknowledged the city overcharged several hundred customers an average of $300 apiece. The mess has put unwanted attention on a major plan to change the way the city collects information from water users. If it were up to the city water department, auditors would definitely not look into the $60 million effort to install 280,000 new “smart meters” across the city – at least not right now.

Drones And Wireless Sensors Take California Water Research To New Level

California is about to learn a whole lot more about how water moves through its many diverse landscapes. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has awarded a $2.2 million grant to the University of California to use remote sensors and drones to monitor hydrology across various landscapes. The subject areas will be the U.C.’s Natural Reserve System, a network of protected lands covering more than 750,000 acres and representing many habitat types in the state.

Southern California Will Get Gray Clouds While Arizona And Baja Get Beneficial Downpour

An unpredictable storm will flit past Southern California this week – bathing the region in dreary gray, but not much else. Late last week meteorologists cautiously predicted rain would hit the Southland, possibly invigorating a lackluster winter. But unlike most storms the region gets, which march through the west-east jet stream, this one came freewheeling from the north, said Brett Albright, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Can New California Water Storage Projects Win State Funding?

If California taxpayers are going to spend $2.7 billion on new water storage projects, the projects had better come with many more environmental benefits. That was the message sent by the California Water Commission, which on February 2 released its first analysis of 11 projects vying for a share of the riches. The money will come from Proposition 1, a ballot measure approved by voters in 2014, which empowered the state to issue nearly $2.7 billion in bonds for water storage, whether new reservoirs, groundwater recharge or some form of hybrid.

California’s Drought Restrictions On Wasteful Water Habits Could Be Coming Back — This Time They’ll Be Permanent

Anyone caught wasting water in California may be fined as much as $500 under new rules being considered by the state water board, officials said Monday. The State Water Resources Control Board is expected to adopt regulation coming before the board on Feb. 20 that would make it a crime to commit any of seven wasteful water practices — from lawn over watering to street median irrigation. Those rules would take effect April 1.

Gallagher’s Dam Safety Bill Goes To Governor On Evacuation Anniversary

The California Legislature unanimously passed Assemblyman James Gallagher’s bill requiring high hazard dams be inspected annually on Monday – the one-year anniversary of the Oroville Dam spillway evacuation. The bill also sets standards for those inspections and requires consultation with independent experts to update dam safety practices every 10 years, a periodic review of original design and construction records and that inspection records be made public, with sensitive information redacted when necessary. It is an urgency bill, meaning it will immediately go into effect if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.