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Sustainable Garden

National Report Highlights Success of San Diego Sustainable Landscapes Program

San Diego’s Sustainable Landscapes Program ranked among the most effective landscape transformation programs in the nation in a study released today by the Chicago-based Alliance for Water Efficiency. The “Landscape Transformation Study: 2018 Analytics Report” compiled data from 14 similar landscape conservation programs in the U.S. and Canada.

The Alliance for Water Efficiency concluded that San Diego program participants reduced water use by an average of 114.8 gallons per day, or 34.8 percent. “The Water Authority has established a high benchmark for landscape transformation programs that include rigorous program requirements that result in the achievement of multiple benefits,” according to the report.

By saving about 42,000 gallons of water per project each year, Sustainable Landscapes Program participants who transformed their landscapes save enough water to supply the average four-person household in San Diego County for more than three months.

“This study highlights our success improving water-use efficiency across the San Diego region,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “We empower program participants to take a hands-on approach to WaterSmart living, and it’s gratifying to see their pride of ownership in these projects that are changing the way San Diegans think about landscapes. An enhanced environment and happy homeowners are part of the promise of sustainable landscaping.”

The national report was accompanied by a survey of more than 3,000 homeowners across North America, which emphasized that residents are ready to embrace new landscape ideals.

“Beautiful landscapes are a source of pride for homeowners, but the emotional connection we have with our outside spaces is not in conflict with a more sustainable approach. People also want to be smart water users,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, in a press release today. “Whether it’s installing a more efficient irrigation system, opting for drought-tolerant turf or re-landscaping with climate-appropriate plants, we need to communicate that a sustainable landscape can be beautiful and water-conscious.”

Empowering WaterSmart lifestyles

Efforts to develop the San Diego landscape program began in 2010 with a successful Proposition 84 grant application. Known as the SLP, the program was developed to help homeowners upgrade their yards with climate-appropriate plants, high-efficiency irrigation equipment, rainwater capture and detention features, and soil amendments. The sum of these measures results in multiple environmental benefits, including water use efficiency.

The SLP was a partnership by the San Diego County 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. Although the grant-funded SLP pilot has been completed, the Water Authority continues to offer and promote SLP-related programs and resources, such as classes and personalized advice from landscape design professionals, a comprehensive guidebook, financial incentives, a demonstration garden and SustainableLandscapesSD.org.

Water Authority Water Conservation Program Manager Carlos Michelon said the SLP sets high standards for efficient water use and other sustainable practices above and beyond standard turf removal programs. Participants achieve multiple benefits, including water efficiency, drought tolerance, stormwater management, water quality enhancement and aesthetically appealing designs.

“Using smart irrigation technology and climate-appropriate plants to increase water-use efficiency makes sense,” Michelon said. “Doing so while also tapping rain water as a resource, improving soil health, and creating other environmental benefits makes even more sense. That’s sustainable landscaping in a nutshell.”

Recognizing the variety of landscapes and microclimates in San Diego County, SLP resources helped to inform and empower participants each step of the way.

“When it comes to sustainable landscaping, planning and collaboration are as critical as soil amendments or detention basins, Michelon said. “The synergy resulting from our collaborative partnerships with other agencies and non-profit organizations has created even more value for participants and the region.”

Financial incentives help fund landscape projects

During a pilot period, the Water Authority and its partners provided more than 325 Sustainable Landscape Incentives to San Diego County homeowners to help transform their landscapes into beautiful, climate-appropriate mini-watersheds.

While this locally-administered program is no longer accepting applications, the Landscape Transformation Program administered by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is open to qualifying water customers in the Water Authority’s service area. Effective April 1, 2019, residential rebates will start at $2 per square foot, for up to $5,000 square feet. Added funding by local water agencies (where available) means total incentives may be as high as $3.25 per square foot. An online incentive calculator at SoCalWaterSmart.com identifies incentives for specific proposed projects.

The SLP was made possible by an Integrated Regional Water Management program grant funded by the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006, administered by the California Department of Water Resources.

Stanford Experts Discuss Impacts Of Downsizing The Delta Twin Tunnels Project

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week his plan to downsize the Delta twin tunnels project, a controversial $17 billion water conveyance system aimed at diverting water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Central Valley and Southern California. The tunnels are intended in part to reduce the impacts that massive pumps at the south end of the Delta currently have on Delta hydrology and ecosystems.

Facing Cutbacks On The Colorado River, Arizona Farmers Look To Groundwater To Stay In Business

In satellite images, the farm fields in central Arizona stand out like an emerald green quilt draped across the desert landscape. Seeing it from the ground level, the fields of alfalfa, corn and wheat are interspersed with the furrows of freshly plowed fields. After the cotton harvest, stray fluffy bolls lie scattered on the ground like patches of snow. A large share of the water that flows to these fields comes from the Colorado River, and the supply of water is about to decrease dramatically.

California Rail Project Not Dead Yet After Newsom Sows Confusion

California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s effort to distance himself from his predecessor’s priorities sowed confusion about the fate of the state’s bond-funded high-speed passenger train project. In his first State of the State speech Tuesday, Newsom took aim at high-speed rail and water tunnel projects championed by former Gov. Jerry Brown. He created confusion about high-speed rail when he said he wanted to prioritize construction on the already underway Bakersfield to Merced segment in the state’s Central Valley. The initial impression was that Newsom planned to scrap the San Francisco and Los Angeles ends of the project to leave the shortened Bakersfield-Merced line.

National Report Highlights Success Of San Diego Sustainable Landscapes Program

San Diego’s Sustainable Landscapes Program ranked among the most effective landscape transformation programs in the nation in a study released today by the Chicago-based Alliance for Water Efficiency. The “Landscape Transformation Study: 2018 Analytics Report” compiled data from 14 similar landscape conservation programs in the U.S. and Canada. The Alliance for Water Efficiency concluded that San Diego program participants reduced water use by an average 114.8 gallons per day, or 34.8 percent. “The Water Authority has established a high benchmark for landscape transformation programs that include rigorous program requirements that result in the achievement of multiple benefits,” according to the report.

Monster Storm Pummels California, Prompting Evacuations Amid Mudslides And Flooding

A fierce winter storm packed with subtropical moisture continued its destructive path across California on Thursday, triggering widespread flooding that prompted evacuations and unleashing a mudslide that sent one home sliding into another in Marin County. Southern Marin fire officials said the mudslide dislodged the home from its foundation and pushed it down a hill before it slammed into another residence shortly before 3 a.m.

Record-Breaking Storm Causes Flooding Countywide, Delays Air Traffic; 7 School Districts Cancel Friday Classes

A Pacific storm supercharged by moisture from the subtropics slammed San Diego County on Thursday, flooding streets, snapping trees, closing schools, causing rock slides and delaying commercial airline traffic. The “atmospheric river” streamed ashore from east of Hawaii and dropped more than 10 inches of rain on Palomar Mountain, more than 6 inches in Julian and close to 3.5 inches in Oceanside. The system produced one of wettest winter days in decades, breaking daily rainfall records in seven communities, including Palomar. The mountain received 10.10 inches, snapping the record of 9.58 inches, set on Feb. 14, 1991. Ramona got 4.05 inches, nearly 2 inches higher than a record set in 1995.

Highway ‘Washed Away’ After Heavy Rain Pounds Riverside County

Riverside County officials Thursday urged residents in Idyllwild and surrounding areas to shelter in place due to “unsafe” road conditions as torrential rain inundated Southern California, turning tunnels into lakes and streets into rivers. Anyone living in the areas of Idyllwild, Mountain Center, and Pine Cove were urged to shelter in place or head to Idylllwild School at 26700 Highway 243, according to Cal Fire. Highway 243 near Lake Fulmore, north of Idyllwild, was “washed away” by the storm, according to California Highway Patrol.

Pineapple Express’s Biggest Punch Set To Hit Water-Logged California

The worst of the rain, snow, and winds carried by the so-called Pineapple Express, a river of warm air loaded with moisture, will hit California on Thursday and stick around at least through Friday, forecasters said. The weather system, headed east from near Hawaii, is the wettest storm on the U.S. West Coast this season. It has swamped cars, flooded vineyards and forced hundreds of Californians to evacuate their homes Wednesday to escape the threat of mudslides. Three Delta Air Lines passengers suffered minor injuries when severe turbulence shook a flight headed from southern California to Seattle on Wednesday, according to authorities.

Storm Drops 5.5 Inches Of Rain On Palomar, Floods Part Of Fashion Valley, And Buffets Jets With High Winds

A big plume of moisture from the sub-tropics has dropped nearly 6 inches of rain on Palomar Mountain, caused flooding in the Fashion Valley Mall area, and generated strong winds that are shaking commercial jets during takeoffs and landings at San Diego International Airport. Through 6 a.m. Thursday, the winds had hit 37 mph at the airport, 48 mph at Scripps Pier and 69 mph on Palomar Mountain. SeaWord will remained closed throughout the day. The storm intensified before dawn and is unleashing heavy rain countywide, causing hazardous driving and bringing a regional flood advisory that will be in effect until 10:30 p.m.