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Rebates-Businesses-Drought-Water Conservation

Water-Use Efficiency Rebates for Businesses

As extreme drought grips the Southwest, businesses across California are taking a variety of water-saving actions. The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer business rebates and other incentives to help businesses save money while saving water.

State ban on commercial turf

The state’s watering ban was put into place on May 24, 2022 and applies to non-functional turf grass defined as grass that is “solely ornamental” and not regularly used for recreational purposes or community events. The restriction does not apply to yards at individual homes and includes exemptions for sports fields and grassy areas made for community gatherings. Watering trees is allowed and encouraged. Enforcement of the state regulations is at the discretion of the local water agency.

Incentives for business property owners

From turf conversions to incentives for converting industrial water systems to recycled water service, there are numerous opportunities to improve water efficiency on commercial properties. To learn more and find more details, visit SDCWA.org. Available rebates and resources for business property owners include:

  • Through a partnership between the County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program and the San Diego County Water Authority, businesses in unincorporated areas of the county are eligible for newly enhanced water-use efficiency rebates in 2021. The Waterscape Rebate Program saves money for residential, commercial, and agricultural customers who make landscape upgrades to improve the region’s climate resilience.
  • SoCalWaterSmart’s Commercial Turf Replacement Program offers great incentives to HOAs and commercial business landscapes. Businesses that convert 1 acre or more of irrigated landscapes, can also apply for the WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program which offers rebates for irrigation devices such as controllers, nozzles, and drip irrigation.
  • The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California On-Site Retrofit Program provides financial incentives to public or private property owners to convert potable water irrigation or industrial water systems to recycled water service.
  • Certified landscape irrigation auditors provide free, on-site inspections, or WaterSmart Irrigation Checkups, and written site-specific water-saving recommendations for qualifying commercial properties in the Water Authority’s service area.

San Diego has reliable supply

Declining water availability on the Colorado River and worsening drought conditions statewide underscore the importance of collective actions to ensure reliable water supplies.

“We are committed as a region to answering the Governor’s call to step up conservation efforts in the face of extreme hot and dry conditions statewide,” said Water Authority Board Chair Gary Croucher. “We are collaborating with the Department of Water Resources’ Save Our Water program, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and our 24 member agencies on public outreach and education efforts this summer to stop water waste and increase conservation efforts to stretch our water supplies.”

The San Diego region has prepared for dry periods and water supplies will continue to sustain the San Diego economy and quality of life. The San Diego County Water Authority is working with its partners at the regional, state, and federal levels to advance water management solutions for the Southwest.

Details on the Water Authority’s programs and drought response and on state regulations go to sdcwa.org.

Take time to learn about your possibleWaterSmart Living irrigation choices. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Installing WaterSmart Living Irrigation

Successfully installing WaterSmart Living irrigation starts long before you get out your tools. You need to complete an assessment of your landscape plan’s specific water needs, draw a complete plan showing the layout, then select your irrigation and purchase your irrigation equipment. If your soil needs amendments (and it almost certainly does), you must get this done first. With all of this important prep work complete, you can start to implement the design.

Five key steps to success

Be sure your irrigation plan considers hills and slopes to prevent waste and erosion. Photo: Pixabay

Step 1: Read the instructions from the manufacturer and familiarize yourself with all the parts of your new irrigation system. Often the manufacturer will provide YouTube video demonstrations which can be extremely helpful.

Step 2: Starting from the main connection to the water line, dig trenches for all the pipes according to your irrigation plan. Ideally, the main connection to the water line will be downstream of the water meter and upstream of the connection to the house.

If you tie into a rear yard hose bib, be aware that the water pressure will be lower because the water for your house is regulated by a separate pressure regulator.

Step 3: Lay an extra pipe sleeve or two under any new hardscape elements. This allows you to add pipes or wires in the future. Be sure to cover the ends of the pipe with duct tape before covering and mark the location on your landscape plan.

Step 4: If you are using drip irrigation, you may want to hold off installing your drip emitters until after planting is complete. With your new plants in the ground, you can place the emitters precisely where the water best irrigates your new plants. Be sure to place them at least six inches away from the plant’s stem to prevent rot.

Step 5: Consult your local irrigation supply store or the major irrigation manufacturers if you need more detailed installation guides or help with troubleshooting. Manufacturers offer toll-free customer service phone help, online chats, and email.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes. Photo: Irrigation Association

Irrigate Your WaterSmart Landscape Like a Pro

Irrigation is an essential part of any good landscape design. It ensures plants and trees get the water they need to thrive without wasting a drop. Once you know how much water your landscape plants require, it’s time to take a closer look at your irrigation system.

Whether you are working with a professional designer or are doing the project yourself, the following checklist will help you keep track of the main design decisions involved in irrigation design.

Start with this informational video about WaterSmart Living Landscape irrigation

Evaluate your existing irrigation system and determine if it can be maintained in its current condition or if you need to upgrade it. Some irrigation systems can be upgraded by changing nozzles, converting to drip emitters, or adding a smart controller, while others may need to be completely redesigned.

Irrigation options fall into categories

High-efficiency irrigation is the most efficient method to deliver water to plants is low-flow irrigation. It delivers water from the valve through a filter and then through a network of lateral pipes and sometimes flexible tubing, to the individual emission devices such as drip emitters, in-line drip emitters, or bubblers. Pressure compensating devices are always the most efficient option.

Low flow irrigation is a good choice for trees and shrub areas and should be used in any landscaped areas next to hardscape and in areas less than eight feet wide to prevent runoff from overspray. When using drip emitters, reduce maintenance and ensure long-term durability by selecting good quality tubing and designing for at least two emitters per shrub.

Moderate efficiency irrigation is the next most efficient types of irrigation include rotating or low precipitation (typically for spaces eight to 30 feet in size). These nozzles are a better choice than conventional spray heads for watering turf because they have a lower application rate – they water slowly. Your watering times will increase, but these sprinklers do not produce mist, and they apply water at a rate turf can absorb it, reducing runoff.

Low-efficiency irrigation. The least efficient types of automatic irrigation include conventional spray irrigation and impact rotors. These types of high precipitation irrigation distribution systems generally apply water faster than the soil can absorb. Installing a new system with low-efficiency irrigation is not recommended. If you have an existing conventional spray system, you can easily retrofit it with new low precipitation nozzles.

Get smart with a smart controller

Landscape Makeover Contest-Otay Water District-drought

This new landscape includes a drip-irrigation system, rotating nozzles, and a smart irrigation controller to schedule efficient water use. Photo: Otay Water District

Upgrade to a smart controller, an automatic controller (also called a timer or clock) is either weather-based or has historical weather data included as a reference. Some systems allow for adding a weather sensor or moisture detection system that automatically adjusts your watering schedule in response to current weather or soil moisture level.

Smart controllers can turn off your sprinklers when it rains and increase the frequency and/or duration of watering in hotter weather. Locate the controller in a place that is easy for you to access, such as the garage.

Verify your new landscape water use

WaterSmart landscape irrigation aims to apply water as efficiently as possible. This means using low flow drip or bubblers whenever possible and in areas with overhead sprays, providing the correct pressure and equipment layout to ensure even coverage to maximize efficiency.

Once you have determined what type of irrigation you would like to use, divide your yard into zones and note what kind of irrigation you plan to use in each zone. Contact some of the major irrigation manufacturers to obtain an irrigation design guide to help you with the specifics of your irrigation layout. Some irrigation manufacturers even offer free irrigation design services.

It is important to double-check to make sure your design meets the target landscape water use after installation. You may need to adjust the design to meet your target to maximize water savings.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

Mayor Gloria and Other Leaders Urge Water Conservation, Warn of ‘Collapse of Colorado River’ System

San Diego County’s water supplies are in good shape in the face of severe statewide drought, but local and state leaders said San Diegans should still take steps to avoid water waste and limit outdoor irrigation.

“We’re here on a somber note, and that is as we move into summer… we are navigating across the American West, an unprecedented drought,” California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said.

Native plants-New landscaping-room to grow-plants-watersmart living landscape

Designing Your WaterSmart Living Landscape to Fit Your Life

When designing your WaterSmart Living landscape, you want your new outdoor space to fit your house, your neighborhood, and your lifestyle. Finding that fit begins by asking a few basic questions.

First, how do you want to use your space? It’s possible to significantly improve your home’s water efficiency and meet your lifestyle needs at the same time. For example, you may want to use less water yet maintain some turf for your children and pets. Focusing most of your landscape plan on low and moderate water use while leaving a small area of turf with high-efficiency irrigation lets you achieve a WaterSmart landscape.

Hausmanns-Vallecitos Water District-landscape makeover-waterwise-WaterSmart

The Hausmanns award-winning landscape makeover also produces succulents sold to benefit a good cause. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

If your goal is an outdoor space for entertaining, use mostly low water plants, a water feature, and a moderate efficiency irrigation system for a different type of WaterSmart Living landscape.

You can reduce water use, minimize maintenance and create a landscape that will be the envy of your neighbors with a combination of very low and low water use plants and a highly efficient irrigation system.

Consider alternatives to traditional turf grass such as low-water-use groundcover and mulch, or permeable hardscape like gravel or decomposed granite paving wherever possible. But if an area of turf is important to your family – for example, a play area for your kids and pets – keep it but use a more drought-tolerant variety of grass in the warm season turf category.

Video: Learn more about how turf can be part of a WaterSmart design

Your Overall Planting Design

Before you start selecting plants, envision your overall planting design. Determine your landscape style and think in terms of plant size and characteristics before moving into actual plant selection.

Take some time to consider the style of landscape you find appealing. Think about how it fits your home’s architecture, your neighborhood, and your lifestyle. You might find a heavy tropical look appealing. But it requires careful low-water-use plant selection for the arid San Diego region.

San Diego shares its climate with many areas of the world, and there are many plant palettes to choose from.

Consider Your Views and Access  

Plants can be used to screen views. Would blank walls or fences look better with a nice-looking shrub in front of them? You can frame the view out a window, but you probably don’t want a large shrub blocking the view.

Plants can also create access points. Is access from the side of the house needed to take garbage cans to the curb? If so, make sure you accommodate a safe pathway in your design.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

While compost and mulch may seem interchangeable, they have distinctly different uses in your sustainable landscaping. Photo: Water Authority Compost vs. Mulch

Using Compost and Mulch to Build Healthy Soil

When undertaking a WaterSmart landscape renovation, strive to continuously feed as much organic matter as possible to the landscape soil to keep it healthy. Start first with compost and mulch to jump-start the process. Eventually, your plants will feed themselves with their own leaf litter.

Organic matter feeds microbes living in the soil that make soil fluffy. It’s similar to bread rising because of yeast.

Learn more about healthy soil in this instructional video

Compost and mulch – what’s the difference?

Compost is a soil amendment. It looks like soil and it’s hard to tell what it once was. That is because it is food scraps, landscape debris and/or manure from livestock, or biosolids (human manure) and other organic matter that already has been partially consumed and mostly decomposed by micro-organisms. Good compost brings oxygen, water, and life in one package.

Compost can be store-bought or made at home. The compost-making process, or composting, involves creating optimal conditions for the microbes to do their transformative work. When compost looks like soil, it can be worked directly into the soil. The more coarse or visible the bits of the compost are, the more likely it is to be used as mulch on top of the soil rather than as an incorporated amendment.

Compost works in several ways. First, the compost itself contains particles improving soil structure. Next, as compost decomposes in soil it encourages the formation of soil macroaggregates. The resulting macroaggregates are composed of existing soil particles and decomposed organic matter, which combine to create a more stable and better functioning soil structure.

Mulch builds soil structure over time and holds in moisture. Photo: Monsterkoi/Pixabay compost

Mulch builds soil structure over time and holds in moisture. Photo: Monsterkoi/Pixabay

Mulch is a soil topping. Mulch may be organic or inorganic material covering soil. It’s made of larger particles and looks like recycled debris. Mulch can be made from organic matter such as grass clippings, leaf litter, and shredded wood trimmings, or inorganic materials such as gravel or decomposed granite.

The microbes in healthy, biologically diverse mulch bind the organic matter together, forming a thick blanket. This cover protects soil and plant roots from temperature change, keeps moisture in by slowing evaporation from the surface of the soil, and keeps weeds from sprouting by reducing sunlight penetration to the soil surface.

Mulch always stays on top of the soil. Unlike compost, it is never worked in. Recycled organic debris is the most effective type of mulch because it builds soil structure over time and provides a durable, protective surface barrier. The smaller the debris and the more mixed leaves with wood chips, the faster it decomposes. When building soil, small and mixed is best.

Composted material, especially coarse composts, also can be used as mulch. Artificial and inorganic mulches (decomposed granite, gravel, rubber chips, and other rubble) are primarily decorative since they do not contribute to soil life or plant health. They may be used in limited applications such as pathways.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

Students Illustrate the Importance of Water in Sweetwater Authority Contest

Twenty local elementary school students were recognized as top entrants of the Sweetwater Authority “Water is Life” Poster Contest. The yearly contest gives K-6 students the chance to demonstrate the ways water is a precious and essential resource. By creating water-related art, students enhance their understanding of the importance of water.

More than 100 students from four schools within the Authority’s service area submitted posters for this year’s contest. Of the 20 selected winners, six students will have their artwork submitted to the Metropolitan Water District’s regional contest for the chance to be featured in the agency’s 2023 art calendar.

The six competitors moving on to regional competition are:

 

2022 Sweetwater Student Poster Contest winner: Camila Hernandez, Allen Elementary School. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

2022 Sweetwater Student Poster Contest winner: Camila Hernandez, Allen Elementary School. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Camila Hernandez, Allen Elementary School

 

2022 Sweetwater Student Poster Contest winner: Christina Parrish, Allen Elementary School. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Christina Parrish, Allen Elementary School

 

2022 Sweetwater Student Poster Contest winner: Roman Padilla, Allen Elementary School. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Roman Padilla, Allen Elementary School

 

Sweetwater Authority contest

2022 Sweetwater Student Poster Contest winner: Vanya Herroz, Allen Elementary School. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Vanya Herroz, Allen Elementary School

 

Sweetwater Authority contest

2022 Sweetwater Student Poster Contest winner: Melanie Garcia, El Toyon Elementary School. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Melanie Garcia, El Toyon Elementary School

 

2022 Sweetwater Student Poster Contest winner: Andres Moreńo Rañon, Allen Elementary School. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Andres Moreńo Rañon, Allen Elemetary School

Students recognized as winners also include Andreas Gonzales, Aryana Ojeda, Dylan Stevens, Elena Morales, Evelyn Avina, Iris Herrera, Jacob Macaspac, Kathryn Irvin, Naanalli Ulloa, Rebecca Garcia, Soffia Ong, Sydney Shatwell, Yaretzi Lopez, and Zoe Jauregui.

In 2021, Allen Elementary School fifth-grader Sydney Shatwell represented Sweetwater Authority in the 2022 MWD regional calendar with her artwork depicting the critical importance of water in everyday good health practices such as brushing your teeth, washing your hands, and staying hydrated.

Winners received art kits and gift cards delivered to their schools. All winning posters are available to view online at www.sweetwater.org/postercontest22.

The Authority’s annual poster contest challenges students to creatively showcase and celebrate the importance of water in daily life through their art. The contest is open to elementary school students who live or attend school in the Authority’s service area.

 

 

SWA Remains in Drought Level 1 of Drought Response Plan; Adds Additional Restrictions

Chula Vista, Calif. – On June 8, the Governing Board (Board) of Sweetwater Authority (Authority) voted to implement additional drought measures to encourage additional water conservation. A full list of the demand reduction levels can be found on the Authority’s website at www.sweetwater.org/drought.

On May 24, 2022, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted a new regulation to guide the state in reducing water demand and to improve conservation.

Soil-WaterSmartSD-Drought, Landscape makeover

Get to Know Your Soil Conditions

Every individual landscape sits in one of San Diego County’s 16 watersheds. The watershed approach to landscaping considers every garden its own mini-watershed, holding onto or cleaning the water falling on it and nurturing a diverse habitat of plants and insects.

Each mini-watershed can be controlled by the people who steward it. Individual landscaping choices add up to collective community action. As a result, these collective actions have the ability to restore the county’s greater watersheds.

Every landscape has unique opportunities and constraints. A thorough evaluation helps to identify them and inform the planting and design choices. Spend time in your yard, observe and take notes about it. Identifying multiple site elements will help you make decisions as you start the design process.

Notes should include the home’s architectural style and materials, good and bad views, slopes, and plants and trees you want to protect. Locate utilities and major irrigation items such as your water meter, controller, and valves.

Start With Healthy Soil

There’s so much more to soil than most people new to landscaping projects realize. Soil is the growing medium for plants. Its nutrients support healthy plant growth. Knowing and working with existing soil conditions and composition is a powerful strategy to maximize water efficiency.

Healthy soil controls the behavior of water: how it moves through the soil and how long it holds on to it. Healthy soil is essential to irrigation efficiency and plant health. It’s possible to build better soil even if existing soil conditions aren’t optimal.

See a demonstration about soil conditions in this video.

First, you must figure out what kind of soil you’re working with. There are three basic soil types: clay, silt, and sand. Clay soil is made of the smallest particles.  Sandy soil is composed of the largest particles. Loam, an equal blend of sand, silt, and clay, is considered the ideal. In general, sandy soil drains faster than clay soils.

Soil structure is also vitally important. Hard, compacted sandy soil will not absorb water. Healthy clay soil can behave more like a sponge, holding and releasing water when necessary.

San Diego County residents must often deal with clay soils and work to improve them to provide the best growing conditions and watershed.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.) 

First Place – Abraham Hernandez, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

Helix Water District 2022 Student Poster Contest Winners Highlight ‘Water is Life’

The Helix Water District Board of Directors honored East County student artists for their winning “Water Is Life” posters in an online awards ceremony during its May 2022 board meeting.

Southern California students in kindergarten through eighth grade are invited to participate in their regional water agency’s Student Poster Art Contest to increase awareness about water conservation. This year, 349 students from 22 schools within the Helix Water District submitted their posters depicting how to use water wisely, a 33% increase in entries from the 2021 competition.

These students took top honors in two categories

Grades K – 3

First Place – Aiden Galaz, Vista La Mesa Academy, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

First Place – Aiden Galaz, Vista La Mesa Academy, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3Second Place – Charlotte Pierce, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District.

 

Third Place – Belen Cardenas Loera, Lighthouse Christian Academy, Grade 2. Photo: Helix Water District

Third Place – Belen Cardenas Loera, Lighthouse Christian Academy, Grade 2. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Clare Brandt, Our Lady of Grace School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

Honorable Mention – Clare Brandt, Our Lady of Grace School, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Gabrielle Portilla, Lakeview Elementary Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Gabrielle Portilla, Lakeview Elementary Elementary, Grade 3. Photo: Helix Water District

Grades 4 – 8

First Place – Abraham Hernandez, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

First Place – Abraham Hernandez, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Second Place – Abigail Payne, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 8. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

 

Third Place – Catalina Jones, Lemon Avenue Elementary, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District 2022

Third Place – Catalina Jones, Lemon Avenue Elementary, Grade 6. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Kayla V. Osuna, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 7. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Kayla V. Osuna, STEAM Academy @ La Presa, Grade 7. Photo: Helix Water District

 

Honorable Mention – Lindsay Lu, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 8. Photo: Helix Water District

Honorable Mention – Lindsay Lu, Christ Lutheran School, Grade 8. Photo: Helix Water District

Winners now move on to compete with other regional winners for the opportunity to appear in the 2023 Metropolitan Water District of Southern California calendar.

Third-grader Lucas Regimbal from Christ Lutheran La Mesa School in the Helix Water District was the youngest of four San Diego County residents to appear in the 2022 MWDD “Water Is Life” calendar.

Lucas explained his message. “I think there are so many big things to do to save water and conserve. But there are also many little things we can do as well. A lot of little things come up to some very big things. By fixing drips, each home or business can save hundreds of gallons of water per year. That means a lot if lots of families and business did this one little thing.”

(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)