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July Was The Hottest Month On Record In California, Record-Wettest In Mid-Atlantic

California experienced its hottest single month in 124 years of recordkeeping, according to NOAA’s monthly summary of United States climate released Wednesday. For the contiguous U.S. as a whole, it was the 11th-hottest July on record, with almost every state coming in warmer than average. The national average of 75.5 degrees Fahrenheit was 1.9 degrees above the 20th-century norm, said NOAA. In addition, several communities in California and adjacent Nevada had their all-time hottest single month.

Trump Administration Moves To Open 1.6 Million Acres To Fracking, Drilling In California

Ending a five-year moratorium, the Trump administration Wednesday took a first step toward opening 1.6 million acres of California public land to fracking and conventional oil drilling, triggering alarm bells among environmentalists. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said it’s considering new oil and natural gas leases on BLM-managed lands in Fresno, San Luis Obispo and six other San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast counties. Meanwhile, activists in San Luis Obispo are pushing a ballot measure this fall to ban fracking and new oil exploration in the county.

Feds Order Water Release Changes After Trump Tweets On California Wildfires

Despite firefighters saying there is no need for more water to fight California’s wildfires, the Commerce Department is paving the way for more water pumping. The move comes after President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday and Monday that California’s water rules were leaving firefighters without enough water, a statement Cal Fire officials say isn’t true. The president appears to have confused firefighting efforts in California with the state’s water rights system and how water allotments are meted out to farmers and water agencies throughout California. Firefighters are able to draw water from nearby reservoirs and ponds if necessary.

“Crucial Milestone” Met At Oroville Dam With Structural Concrete Placement

Crews have begun to place the final layer of concrete this week on the upper portion of the Oroville Dam spillway chute. This marks a “crucial milestone,” said Tony Meyers, project manager for the recovery project for the state Department of Water Resources, in a moderated media call on Wednesday. The top layer of the spillway consists of structural concrete slabs, which are designed to be erosion-resistant. The first two structural concrete slabs were placed Monday on the upper chute.

OPINION: The Bullet Train Has (Almost) Nothing On Brown’s Twin Tunnels

If you thought the bullet train was a boondoggle designed to lift money from your wallet while delivering nothing, wait until you hear what’s next. The state of California is building a time machine. That’s how Gov. Jerry Brown and the Department of Water Resources intend to pay part of the cost of the $17 billion twin-tunnel project known as WaterFix. They have to get voters to approve the costly undertaking so property taxes can be raised to pay for it. Here’s the catch: The voters have to approve it in 1960.

California Water Regulators Help Target Black Market Marijuana Farmers

After Riverside County deputies raided an unlicensed cannabis farm in the small, unincorporated community of Aguanga, they found nearly 3,000 plants growing scattered between the brush. The tip that led Sgt. Tyson Voss and his team to that illicit farm last month came from a source you might not expect: the Cannabis Enforcement Unit of the California State Water Resources Control Board. The state water agency created a pilot cannabis team four years ago to investigate marijuana growers in Northern California who divert or pollute waterways in their effort to profit via cannabis.

OPINION: Block Outrageous Effort To Lock In Delta Tunnels Water Grab

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is now trying to jam through a political deal that would enable construction of his $17 billion Delta twin-tunnels project, the biggest public works project in state history, without the approval of the state Legislature, the voters or ratepayers who would be footing the bill. Brown’s state Department of Water Resources suddenly plans to extend State Water Project contracts, with amendments, for another 50 years. Fifty years! That would allow water contractors backing the twin-tunnels project to lock in water contracts for the Delta tunnels project before Brown leaves office at the end of this year.

SANDAG Will Preserve Nearly 112 Acres Of Habitat In Carmel Valley

SANDAG recently acquired nearly 112 acres of native habitat and old agricultural lands in Carmel Valley, according to a news release. The old agricultural lands will be restored to wetland habitat and the remaining land will be preserved as open space. The land, referred to as Deer Canyon East, is immediately adjacent to and upstream of the 31-acre Deer Canyon West wetland mitigation site. The acquisition was finalized this June shortly after the West property was deemed successfully restored by federal and state agencies.

With a little thoughtful planning and good choices, lawn can still be a good choice in waterwise landscaping. Photo: Pixabay/Cromaconceptovisual Waterwise Lawns

When It Comes To Lawns, Use it or Lose It

If you have a desire and a need to retain turf as part of your landscaping, consider adopting the most efficient and organic maintenance plan possible. Lawns that are maintained organically and with efficient irrigation can offer a cool, practical surface for active recreation, or just hanging out with your family.  

Most lawns suffer from inefficient maintenance. They require too much water and energy. They become major sources of pollution from fertilizers and pesticide runoff. For these reasons, lawns should be limited to accessible, usable, high-functioning spaces like children’s play yards, sports fields, and picnicking areas. 

It’s smart to rethink the idea of lawns as all-purpose, wall-to-wall groundcover. In many cases, there is no need to maintain so much lawn. If you decide to keep your grass areas, follow these guidelines to maintain it organically. 

If you decide to keep your grass areas, follow these guidelines to maintain it organically. Photo: Alicja/Creative Commons Waterwise Lawns

If you decide to keep your grass areas, follow these guidelines to maintain it organically. Photo: Alicja/Creative Commo

  • Apply a thin layer of compost annually. 
  • Aerate and de-thatch your lawn annually. 
  • Manage your irrigation carefully. Control overspray and fix problems promptly. 
  • Mow less frequently. Maintain 3 to 4 inches of height on cool season grass, and 1.5 to 2 inches of height on warm season grass.  
  • Grass-cycle every time you mow. 
  • Don’t allow seed heads to form on the grass, and remove those that do form. 
  • Consider over-seeding with clover to help make the grass more interesting looking and more drought-tolerant. 
  • Eliminate chemical inputs to your grass. 

What’s the difference between Cool Season Grass and Warm Season Grass? 

Cool Season Grass: 

  • Needs more water than warm season grass and is considered a high use plant. 
  • Requires watering in hot summers to prevent it from going dormant and turning brown 
  • Grows typically as bunch grasses and propagates by seed or weak stolons. 
  • Cool season grass is easily smothered by sheet mulching.
  • Varieties include: Bent Grass (Agrostis), Fescue varieties (Festuca), Kentucky Bluegress (Poa pratensis), Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne) 

Warm Season Grass: 

  • Is a moderate water use plant. 
  • Peaks when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, but it will go dormant (brown) in winter months when it is rainy and cool. 
  • Grows from sturdy rhizomes extending deep underground. Warm season grasses require physical removal and/or extensive sheet mulching (up to 12 inches).
  • Varieties inclue: Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylan), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis), Buffalo Grass (Buchloe actyloides), St. Augustine Grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), Zoysia, and Seashore Paspalum.  

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.   

READ MORE: Evapotranspiration – The Key To Watering Your Plants