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Environmental Turnaround — 8 Issues That Will Pivot in California’s Favor Under Biden

As wildfires, heat waves, water scarcity and threats to wildlife intensify in the West, California’s effort to confront these environmental crises now has support in Washington, a stark change from the past four years.

Even as former President Donald Trump spent his final days in office on the sidelines, lamenting his election loss, his administration continued to roll back environmental conservation and gut climate regulations.

Homeowner Jeff Moore's back yard zen garden featuring his landscape work fit beautifully into his area's climate zone. Photo: Water Authority climate zone

Match Your Climate Zone to Your Landscaping Plan

Making smart decisions about your landscape design and your plant choices relies in large part on your climate zone. San Diego County’s six different climate zones vary in their average conditions. By choosing wisely, you can minimize the need for artificial irrigation and still create a beautiful, sustainable landscape.

The California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) divides San Diego County into these six climate zones: Coastal, Coastal Inland, Upland Central, Transition, Mountain, and Desert.

This climate system provides you factors to help you understand which plants will thrive in your landscaping under its native conditions. Gardening in harmony with your local climate zone and your microclimate helps you use resources, including water, most efficiently.

Descriptions of San Diego’s six climate zones

Which CIMIS climate zone are you in?

San Diego County's geography falls within six of the 24 CIMIS climate zones. Photo: CIMIS match your climate zone

San Diego County’s geography falls within six of the 24 CIMIS climate zones. Photo: CIMIS

Zone 1: Coastal Prairie

The Coastal Prairie zone hugs our county’s coastline. It is the zone most strongly influenced by the ocean, with a mild marine climate resulting from the warm Pacific Ocean. Winters are mild, summers are cool, and there is almost always moisture in the air.

Zone 4: South Coast Inland

South Coastal Inland areas are just inland from the beach, or on high bluffs above the coastline. You can feel the ocean breeze, but you can’t taste the salt in the air. There is less fog and humidity than the immediate coastal area, and higher temperatures.

Zone 6: Upland Central

The higher elevation Upland Central areas are influenced both by moist coastal air and dry interior air. Humidity, morning fog, and wind are moderate, with low annual rainfall.

Zone 9: Transition

This marine-to-desert transition climate is farther inland. It features a combination of warmer thermal belts and cold-air basins and hilltops, with an occasional marine influence. The climate can vary from heavy fog to dry Santa Ana winds.

Zone 16: Mountain

Steep slopes, variation in sun and wind exposure, shallow soils and heavier rainfall affect plants in the Mountain regions. Average annual rainfall is 30 inches, and wet years can bring 45 inches or more.

Zone 18: Desert

Dry and hot daytime conditions combine with cold nighttime temperatures in the Desert zone. Humidity is very low, and water is scarce. Average annual rainfall can be as low as 2.5 inches, with an average of just 6 inches.

Learn more about the specifics of your climate and microclimate on the California Irrigation Management Information System website.

 

This article is part of a year-long series 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.

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Matilija poppies, or Romneya coulteri, have the largest flower of any poppy. It's native to dry, sunny areas from California to Baja and are good choiices for successful sustanable landscaping. Photo: Kimberly Rotter / Pixabay

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Treating every garden, no matter its size, as its own mini-watershed allows it to capture and retain water to nurture a diverse habitat of plants and helpful insects.

Watersmart living not only saves money, but it creates vibrant yards, reduces energy use, protects our natural resources, and reduces landscape maintenance. It may even improve property values. It also creates a shared sense of purpose about how we use our limited water supplies.

What elements do you need to consider when taking a watershed approach to your landscape?

Learn Four Key Principles of Sustainable Landscaping

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority's Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden outside its headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Photo: Water Authority

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The formula for successful sustainable landscaping includes four key principles:

  • Healthy, Living Soils: Healthy, living soils rich in organic content feed a complex soil food web. The soil holds water like a sponge, and has nutrients for optimal plant health.
  • Climate Appropriate Plants: Many choices of beautiful groundcovers, shrubs, and trees are compatible with San Diego’s mild Mediterranean climate. These plants use less water and display diverse colors, textures, and shaped with endless design options.
  • Rainwater as a Resource: Sustainable landscapes make the most of natural rainfall. Slowing the flow of water off rooftops and hard surfaces allow it to be captured and sink into the soil or be stored for later use.
  • High-Efficiency Irrigation: Your irrigation can maximize water-use efficiency through smart controllers to adjust water automatically to changing weather conditions, and high-performance distribution components to regulate pressure and tailor water delivery to the exact needs of your landscape plants.

The four principles of successful sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego.

The 3,000-square-foot garden can be viewed by the public. It includes informational signage introducing visitors to key sustainable landscaping principles. Specific plant types that grow successfully in the region’s climate are also identified. Many are Southern California natives.

This article is part of a year-long series 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.

Environmental Turnaround — 8 Issues That Will Pivot in California’s Favor Under Biden

As wildfires, heat waves, water scarcity and threats to wildlife intensify in the West, California’s effort to confront these environmental crises now has support in Washington, a stark change from the past four years.

Even as former President Donald Trump spent his final days in office on the sidelines, lamenting his election loss, his administration continued to roll back environmental conservation and gut climate regulations.

Homeowner Jeff Moore's back yard zen garden featuring his landscape work fit beautifully into his area's climate zone. Photo: Water Authority climate zone

Match Your Climate Zone to Your Landscaping Plan

Making smart decisions about your landscape design and your plant choices relies in large part on your climate zone. San Diego County’s six different climate zones vary in their average conditions. By choosing wisely, you can minimize the need for artificial irrigation and still create a beautiful, sustainable landscape.

The California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) divides San Diego County into these six climate zones: Coastal, Coastal Inland, Upland Central, Transition, Mountain, and Desert.

This climate system provides you factors to help you understand which plants will thrive in your landscaping under its native conditions. Gardening in harmony with your local climate zone and your microclimate helps you use resources, including water, most efficiently.

Descriptions of San Diego’s six climate zones

Which CIMIS climate zone are you in?

San Diego County's geography falls within six of the 24 CIMIS climate zones. Photo: CIMIS match your climate zone

San Diego County’s geography falls within six of the 24 CIMIS climate zones. Photo: CIMIS

Zone 1: Coastal Prairie

The Coastal Prairie zone hugs our county’s coastline. It is the zone most strongly influenced by the ocean, with a mild marine climate resulting from the warm Pacific Ocean. Winters are mild, summers are cool, and there is almost always moisture in the air.

Zone 4: South Coast Inland

South Coastal Inland areas are just inland from the beach, or on high bluffs above the coastline. You can feel the ocean breeze, but you can’t taste the salt in the air. There is less fog and humidity than the immediate coastal area, and higher temperatures.

Zone 6: Upland Central

The higher elevation Upland Central areas are influenced both by moist coastal air and dry interior air. Humidity, morning fog, and wind are moderate, with low annual rainfall.

Zone 9: Transition

This marine-to-desert transition climate is farther inland. It features a combination of warmer thermal belts and cold-air basins and hilltops, with an occasional marine influence. The climate can vary from heavy fog to dry Santa Ana winds.

Zone 16: Mountain

Steep slopes, variation in sun and wind exposure, shallow soils and heavier rainfall affect plants in the Mountain regions. Average annual rainfall is 30 inches, and wet years can bring 45 inches or more.

Zone 18: Desert

Dry and hot daytime conditions combine with cold nighttime temperatures in the Desert zone. Humidity is very low, and water is scarce. Average annual rainfall can be as low as 2.5 inches, with an average of just 6 inches.

Learn more about the specifics of your climate and microclimate on the California Irrigation Management Information System website.

 

This article is part of a year-long series 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.

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Matilija poppies, or Romneya coulteri, have the largest flower of any poppy. It's native to dry, sunny areas from California to Baja and are good choiices for successful sustanable landscaping. Photo: Kimberly Rotter / Pixabay

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Treating every garden, no matter its size, as its own mini-watershed allows it to capture and retain water to nurture a diverse habitat of plants and helpful insects.

Watersmart living not only saves money, but it creates vibrant yards, reduces energy use, protects our natural resources, and reduces landscape maintenance. It may even improve property values. It also creates a shared sense of purpose about how we use our limited water supplies.

What elements do you need to consider when taking a watershed approach to your landscape?

Learn Four Key Principles of Sustainable Landscaping

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority's Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden outside its headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Photo: Water Authority

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The formula for successful sustainable landscaping includes four key principles:

  • Healthy, Living Soils: Healthy, living soils rich in organic content feed a complex soil food web. The soil holds water like a sponge, and has nutrients for optimal plant health.
  • Climate Appropriate Plants: Many choices of beautiful groundcovers, shrubs, and trees are compatible with San Diego’s mild Mediterranean climate. These plants use less water and display diverse colors, textures, and shaped with endless design options.
  • Rainwater as a Resource: Sustainable landscapes make the most of natural rainfall. Slowing the flow of water off rooftops and hard surfaces allow it to be captured and sink into the soil or be stored for later use.
  • High-Efficiency Irrigation: Your irrigation can maximize water-use efficiency through smart controllers to adjust water automatically to changing weather conditions, and high-performance distribution components to regulate pressure and tailor water delivery to the exact needs of your landscape plants.

The four principles of successful sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego.

The 3,000-square-foot garden can be viewed by the public. It includes informational signage introducing visitors to key sustainable landscaping principles. Specific plant types that grow successfully in the region’s climate are also identified. Many are Southern California natives.

This article is part of a year-long series 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.

Is Farming with Reclaimed Water the Solution to a Drier Future?

On a Saturday in late October, Carolyn Phinney stands hip-deep in a half acre of vegetables, at the nucleus of what will one day be 15 acres of productive farmland. “You can’t even see the pathways,” she says, surrounded by the literal fruits of her labors. The patch is a wealth of herbs, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, kale, winter squash, and zucchini. So much zucchini — fruits the size of bowling pins hidden under leaves as big as umbrellas.

Lucia Perez Valles is one of six San Diego regional winners whose artwork appears in the 2012 "Water Is Life" calendar. Photo: Otay Water District 2021 Calendar

San Diego County Student Artists Shine in 2021 Calendar

Six talented San Diego County artists from the region’s schools are among the 36 Southern California students whose artwork will appear in the 2021 “Water Is Life” Student Art Calendar.

Six San Diego region students were selected from 13,000 entries to appear in the 2021 "Water Is Life" calendar. Photo: MWD

Six students from the San Diego region were selected from 13,000 entries to appear in the 2021 “Water Is Life” calendar. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Produced by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the “Water is Life” Student Art Calendar showcases student artwork with imaginative water conservation and water resource stewardship messages. Students in grades K-12 submitted artwork through participating member agencies, after winning their local competition.

This year, the six regional winners, their families, and member agency representatives participated in a virtual award ceremony to honor their achievements on Dec. 17.

Winning students from the San Diego region

Jose Sabedra's winning entry appears on the June 2021 page. Photo: MWD

Jose Sabedra’s winning entry appears on the June 2021 calendar page. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Art from Jose Sabedra, a fourth-grader from Bostonia Language Academy and Mina Saeed, also a fourth-grader at Lexington Elementary School, appear in the calendar. They won the Helix Water District competition. Sabedra’s teacher is Sara Meier, and Saeed’s teacher is Holly Hemming. June features Sabedra’s art and Saeed’s winning work covers September.

Mina Saeed's winning entries appear on the September 2021 page. Photo: MWD

Mina Saeed’s winning entry appears on the September 2021 calendar page. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

“We are always impressed by the creativity and talent of the student artists from our district, and this year was no exception,” said Jennifer Bryant, Helix Water District director of administrative services. “Congratulations again to Jose Sabedra and Mina Saeed – we are proud to see your water conservation artwork represent Helix in MWD’s 2021 Water is Life calendar.”

Lucia Perez Valles' winning entry appears on the July 2021 page. Photo: MWD 2021 calendar

Lucia Perez Valles’ winning entry appears on the July 2021 calendar page. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Sisters Lucia Perez Valles and Sofia Perez Valles both have winning artwork from the Otay Water District in the 2021 calendar. Both attend Olympian High School. Lucia is a sophomore, and Sonia is a senior. Lucia’s art appears on the July page, and Sonia’s appears in November.

Sofia Perez Valles' and Sarah Bernier's winning entries appear on the November 2021 page. Photo: MWD

Sofia Perez Valles’ and Sarah Bernier’s winning entries appear on the November 2021 calendar page. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

“It is important to provide this opportunity to students in our service area, especially during the pandemic because water education is always important,“ said Eileen Salmeron, Otay Water District communications assistant. “We’re proud of all the participants from Otay, including the Valles sisters, for demonstrating their awareness of how essential water is to our everyday quality of life.”

From the Padre Dam Municipal Water District competition, sixth graders Sarah Bernier at Joan MacQueen Middle School in Kim Asfazadour’s class, and Violet Jacobson at Hill Creek Elementary School in Mrs. Kelly’s class both have posters in the calendar. Bernier’s art appears on the November page, and Jacobson’s on the December page. This is the second year in a row Violet Jacobson’s artwork appears in the MWD regional calendar.

Violet Jacobson's artwork appears on the December 2021 page. She is a two-time winner. Her artwork also appeared in 2020. Photo: MWD

Violet Jacobson’s artwork appears on the December 2021 calendar page. She is a two-time winner. Her artwork also appeared in 2020. Photo: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

“I am so proud of the talented students who are representing Padre Dam in the 2021 Water is Life Calendar,” said Emma Shea, Padre Dam Municipal Water District communications coordinator. “These young artists have done a fantastic job at portraying the importance of water conservation as a way of life.”

See the full calendar here

Artistic expression provides environmental education  

The “Water is Life” Student Art Calendar curates student art submitted from grades K-12 that carry a conservation message. Hundreds of entries are judged and 36 are featured in the annual calendar, which is distributed to about 13,000 recipients each year.

California Farmers Work to Create a Climate Change Buffer for Migratory Water Birds

On a warm, sunny afternoon in late November, Roger Cornwell stopped his pickup near the edge of a harvested rice field to avoid spooking a great blue heron standing still as a statute, alert for prey. He pointed to a dozen or so great egrets at the opposite end of the field as a chorus of killdeer sang a high lonesome tune in the distance.

A Desert City Tries to Save Itself with Rain

In an average year, Brad Lancaster can harvest enough rain to meet 95% of his water needs. Roof runoff collected in tanks on his modest lot in Tucson, Arizona — where 100 degree days are common in the summer months — provides what he needs to bathe, cook and drink.

Lawn Rebates for Fall Planting Season

Fall planting season is underway and a great time to take advantage of rebates for replacing your lawn.

“Fall is like a second spring for planting in our region and it’s also a great opportunity for residents to take advantage of some outdoor incentives as they replace grass with climate appropriate plants,” said Joni German, water resources specialist at the San Diego County Water Authority.

Conservationists Challenge ‘Destructive’ Central California Dam Project

A proposed dam in California’s Central Valley is billed as a vital agricultural resource. But conservationists say it would also flood important cultural and recreational sites for surrounding communities and destroy wildlife habitat.