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Janet and Conrad Becks' winning design came from their desire to save water and to showcase their makeover. Photo: City of Oceanside drought tolerant gardens

City of Oceanside Selects Drought Tolerant Gardens as 2019 Contest Winners

The City of Oceanside selected Janet and Conrad Beck’s colorful, vibrant garden as its 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner. The couple transformed their plain, water-wasting lawn into a drought-tolerant garden.

The annual contest recognizes exceptional water-wise landscapes in San Diego County based on overall attractiveness, design, appropriate plant selection, and water efficient irrigation.

Makeover saves water

The winning landscape earned the Becks a $250 grand prize. The makeover evolved from the Becks’ desire to save water. The garden’s plant palette includes a wide variety of California native and drought-tolerant plants, what they now describe as a “whimsical” garden.

By also replacing their automated irrigation system, the couple realized a water savings of more than 3,700 gallons of water per month, virtually cutting their water bill in half.

Drought tolerant gardens provide habitat while saving resources

Homeowner Gerald Wharton was inspired to bring back livable habitat for native flora and fauna when creating his drought tolerant garden. Photo: City of Oceanside drought tolerant gardens

Homeowner Gerald Wharton was inspired to bring back livable habitat for native flora and fauna when creating his drought-tolerant garden. Photo: City of Oceanside

Three runners-up received honorable mentions along with nursery gift cards.

Homeowner Gerald Wharton was inspired to bring back livable habitat for native flora and fauna when creating his drought-tolerant garden. Once his plants become acclimated and more established, they require less water, and eventually, no irrigation at all.

Homeowner Kim Wascher was motivated to save money on her water bill when she transformed her landscaping. Photo: City of Oceanside

Homeowner Kim Wascher was motivated to save money on her water bill when she transformed her landscaping. Photo: City of Oceanside

Homeowner Kim Wascher first removed her lawn to reduce her water costs and the heavy maintenance that her lawn required. Her original goal grew into a comprehensive landscaping plan. Wascher exchanged her water-thirsty grass for a wildlife habitat now attracting butterflies, lizards, bugs and a variety of birds. On summer evenings, she enjoys watching bats flying through the yard.

Colorful succulents

Laura Cates moved to Oceanside several years ago after living in the U.S. Midwest. She was not familiar with succulents of any kind. But Cates said she was fed up with grass in her front-and-back yards. Her sister-in-law ‘knew her succulents,’ and her enthusiasm for the colorful, easy-to-grow, low-water-use plants grew on Cates.

Laura Cates used succulents to create her winning landscape design in Oceanside. Photo: City of Oceanside drought tolerant gardens

Laura Cates used succulents to create her winning landscape design in Oceanside. Photo: City of Oceanside

Cates is now well-known to her neighbors as a plant guru. She helps others get started with a clipping or two from her own yard. Cates said she likes to think that she’s paying it forward.

The annual WaterSmart Landscape Contest runs annually from January through April. For more information, check online at www.GreenOceanside.org

For help and inspiration to transform your landscaping, visit WaterSmartSD.org

Smart Irrigation Month Highlights Water-Efficient Technology

San Diego regional water agencies are sharing water-efficiency tips during “Smart Irrigation Month.”

July is traditionally the month of peak demand for outdoor water use and the reason it was chosen as Smart Irrigation Month when it started in 2005. The month celebrates the social, economic, and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation for landscapes, recreation and agriculture.

July is "Smart Irrigation Month," designed to call attention to efficient irrigation techniques to preserve the world's fresh water supply. Photo: Irrigation Association

Smart Irrigation Month Highlights Water-Efficient Technology

San Diego regional water agencies are sharing water-efficiency tips during “Smart Irrigation Month.”

July is traditionally the month of peak demand for outdoor water use and the reason it was chosen as Smart Irrigation Month when it started in 2005. The month celebrates the social, economic, and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation for landscapes, recreation and agriculture.

Smart Irrigation Month highlights irrigation technology innovations and encourages water-efficient irrigation techniques to preserve the world’s fresh water supply.

Member agency activities for Smart Irrigation Month 2019

The Otay Water District is participating in "Smart Irrigation Month" education via its social media channels and website. Photo: Otay Water District

The Otay Water District is among those participating in “Smart Irrigation Month” education via its social media channels and website. Photo: Otay Water District

The Otay Water District is helping its customers increase water-use efficiency during Smart Irrigation Month with a dedicated webpage of tips. Customers can apply for a free WaterSmart Checkup by calling 760-728-1332 or at watersmartcheckup.org

The Helix Water District also offers free home water use checkups to its customers by phone 619-667-6626 or email

And, the City of Oceanside Water Utilities Department is hosting a free Smart Irrigation Workshop at Mira Costa College on Saturday, July 13. The event has reached capacity, but customers can all 760-435-5816 to get on a waiting list and be notified about future events.

Nine Watering Tips For #SmartIrrigationMonth

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

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

July is an ideal month to perform a check on current irrigation systems and determine whether any practices can be improved to save water. The San Diego County Water Authority offers these nine Smart Irrigation Month tips:

  • Select sprinkler heads and nozzles that apply water uniformly to the target area.
  • Inspect your sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are not obstructed or watering onto pavement or other hardscapes.
  • Upgrade to a smart controller. Weather and soil moisture-based controllers can automatically adjust your watering schedule based on the conditions at your location.
  • Use drip or low pressure, low volume irrigation which applies water directly to the base or roots of plants.
  • If water is applied too quickly, it can run off into the street or sidewalk. Smart irrigation regulates water pressure, ensuring water has a chance to soak into the ground.
  • Less is more when watering turf. Water long enough to soak down to the root zone, then don’t water again until the soil is completely dry. If the grass springs back when you step on it, it has enough water.
  • The greatest waste of water in landscape irrigation comes from watering too much, too fast. Instead of watering 20 consecutive minutes, run sprinklers in four five-minute sessions. This allows water to soak into the soil and minimizes runoff.
  • A rain shut-off device is an inexpensive gadget to add to your sprinkler system.
  • Improve efficiency by watering at the coolest time of day. When it’s hot or windy, more than a third of the water can be lost to evaporation.

Find more tips and information on Smart Irrigation Month at WaterSmartSD.org

 

Agave attenuata is one of the plants available to qualified Fallbrook PUD customers in its new plant voucher program. Photo: Fallbrook PUD plant vouchers

Fallbrook PUD Offers Plant Vouchers For Sustainable Landscaping

The Fallbrook Public Utility District will offer residents in its service area free low-water or drought-tolerant plants beginning July 1. The district will give qualified residents vouchers redeemable for plants at Silverthorn Ranch Nursery in Fallbrook, which produces plants using recycled water.

“Customers will go through an application process and qualified applicants will receive free plants to install in their landscape,” said Mick Cothran, Fallbrook Public Utility District engineering technician. “We want to encourage and help our customers replace turf with plants that don’t require a lot of water, and show them drought tolerant plants can be beautiful additions to their landscaping.”

The San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies have encouraged homeowners to implement sustainable landscaping through free ‘WaterSmart’ landscaping classes, and through a variety of rebate programs.

Online application for plant vouchers posted starting July 1

A list of the plants being offered through FPUD’s program is included on its website. Choices include plants like this Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrada). Photo: Fallbrook PUD

A list of the plants being offered through Fallbrook’s program is included on its website. Choices include plants like this Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata). Photo: Fallbrook Public Utility District

An online application will be posted on the FPUD website starting July 1, and submissions will be processed on a first-come, first served basis. Applicants will also be required to submit two photos of the area(s) to be planted, and a basic plan or sketch of the project.

Sustainable landscaping

A list of the plants being offered through FPUD’s program is included on its website. Choices range from five-gallon Dragon trees (Dracaena draco) and Beaked Yucca (Yucca rostrata) to Mini Elephant’s Food (Portulacaria afra ‘Mini’), Silver Dollar Jade (Crassula arborescens), and small succulents including assorted aloe, aeonium, and echeveria.

San Diego County residents have embraced sustainable landscaping practices as a result of increased attention to water conservation, due in part to recurring periods of drought over the past thirty years.

The FPUD program is made possible with grant funding provided by two Metropolitan Water District of Southern California grants through the Water Authority.

Conservation Has Saved 4.8 Million Acre Feet Of Water Since 2003

Since 2003, Imperial Irrigation District has conserved almost 4.8 million acre feet of water, mostly through water transfers and agreements. A 1988 agreement between IID and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California near Los Angles has amounted to 1.56 million of that amount since 2003 at the Imperial Dam.

A colorful landscape full of native blooms is the 2019 Helix Water District Landscape Contest winner. Photo: Helix Water District Helix 2019 Landscape Contest

California Native Garden Wins Helix’s 2019 Landscape Contest

Matt and Lauren Kirkpatrick of La Mesa are this year’s winner of the Helix Water District’s ‘WaterSmart Landscape Contest,’ an annual competition recognizing outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

Compared to the previous landscaping with thirsty turf, the new landscaping uses much less water. Photo: Helix Water District

Compared to the previous landscaping with thirsty turf, the new landscaping uses much less water. Photo: Helix Water District

Compared to the thirsty turf in the Kirkpatricks’ previous landscaping, the growing, colorful and entirely native new landscaping requires much less water and creates a place of inspiration and peace for these outdoor enthusiasts. Over the two-month billing period ending this April, the home used just 13 units of water, which is almost 40 percent less than the average water use of other Helix customers. One unit is 748 gallons.

The Kirkpatricks purchased the home in 2014 with a front yard full of grass that required frequent watering and mowing to maintain a modest appearance. In the end, the lawn’s appearance was lackluster, costly, and time consuming for the couple. Taking advantage of SoCal WaterSmart’s turf removal rebate program, the Kirkpatricks tossed their turf for a beautiful native landscape with less maintenance and less water consumption.

The couple chose a native plant pallet so they could enjoy the look, feel and smell of what they love – the California outdoors.

“California natives were an obvious choice,” said Matt Kirkpatrick. “They are a reflection of our love for the plants we know closely from our experiences outdoors. Native plants make us feel at home and give us an appreciation for the beauty of our state.”

Colorful new landscaping already in full spring bloom

Even though the new landscaping is only four months old, it is already in full bloom with California native plants. Photo: Helix Water District

Even though the new landscaping is only four months old, it is already in full bloom with California native plants. Photo: Helix Water District

Although only a few months old, the yard already displays a wonderful spring bloom with a wide variety of colors that native landscapes can offer. There are vibrant oranges from hundreds of California poppies, reds from sticky monkey flower, blues from ceanothus, purples from lupine, yellows from yarrow and plenty of green and golds from various shrubs and grasses. At the center of the landscape is a young but promising Engelmann Oak, a signature Southern California tree among wild and urban landscapes.

Plants receive water from rainwater catchment and through an efficient irrigation system, which the couple installed. The landscape captures rainwater from the roof and diverts it into two separate swales designed to absorb the water and allow it time to soak into the soil. The two swales provide water for half of the yard and prevent rainwater from running off into the street. The remaining plants receive water through high-efficiency spray nozzles that were retrofitted onto the existing irrigation system and use less water than the previous sprinklers. The Kirkpatricks only run the system once per month during the warm season.

Native gardens are just one of many different designs of landscapes available to homeowners looking to redesign their thirsty and traditional landscapes. In addition to requiring minimal irrigation beyond rainfall, native gardens are colorful, low maintenance and provide a natural habitat for local wildlife.

Free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes provide blueprint for success

The Kirkpatricks took advantage of the Water Authority's WaterSmart Landscaping classes. Photo: Helix Water District Helix 2019 Landscape Contest

The Kirkpatricks took advantage of the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscaping classes. Photo: Helix Water District

Like the 2018 Helix landscape contest winners, the Kirkpatricks took advantage of the San Diego County Water Authority’s free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program four course series to educate themselves about their options. They then chose a landscaping contractor familiar with native plants which thrive in a residential landscape to bring their plan to life.

The Kirkpatricks will receive their prizes including gift cards totaling $250 and an award certificate at the Helix Water District’s June board of directors meeting The family will also receive a ‘WaterSmart Contest Winner’ sign to display in the yard.

The annual landscape contest runs from January through April each year. Visit the Helix Water District’s website, Facebook page or Twitter for more information.

Helix Water District treats and delivers water to over 276,000 people in La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove and parts of Spring Valley, Lakeside and unincorporated San Diego County.

OPINION: Energy Storage Can Keep The Lights On, Cut Carbon Emissions

Most of us won’t forget those rolling blackouts that took place across California in early 2000.  I remember them well, since I was the one who had to manage the power grid and turn off the lights more than a dozen times. Since then, energy engineers and operators like myself have made a life’s work out of keeping the lights on as California works to reduce carbon emissions and add more renewable energy into the power grid to meet California’s clean energy goals. The challenge is this: California remains dependent on natural gas plants and imported power from other states to meet demand in the evening when the sun goes down and solar energy isn’t available.

OMWD Board President Ed Sprague with 2019 poster contest winners (L to R) Sayla Egger, Addison Bowe, and Delaney Owens. Photo: OMWD Water Awareness

Encinitas Students Take Home Honors in OMWD’s 2019 Water Awareness Poster Contest

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors recognized the winners of the 2019 North County Water Agencies Water Awareness Poster Contest at its May 22 meeting.

Fourth-grade students living or attending school within OMWD’s service area were invited to enter the contest earlier this year. The top three posters all hailed from Mrs. Goyette’s class at Flora Vista Elementary in Encinitas.

Sayla Egger’s first-place poster features a superhero pup and encourages people to conserve water by recycling it.

Sayla Egger’s first-place poster features a superhero pup and encourages people to conserve water by recycling it. Photo: OMWD

Sayla Egger’s first-place poster features a superhero pup and encourages people to conserve water by recycling it. Photo: OMWD

Addison Bowe, the second-place winner, designed a poster that highlights the connection between water conservation and pollution prevention.

Addison Bowe, the second-place winner, designed a poster that highlights the connection between water conservation and pollution prevention. Photo: OMWD Poster Contest

Addison Bowe, the second-place winner, designed a poster that highlights the connection between water conservation and pollution prevention. Photo: OMWD

The poster that received third-place honors was created by Delaney Owens and portrays a side-by-side comparison of a world with water and a world without.

The poster that received third-place honors was created by Delaney Owens and portrays a side-by-side comparison of a world with water and a world without. Photo: OMWD

The poster that received third-place honors was created by Delaney Owens and portrays a side-by-side comparison of a world with water and a world without. Photo: OMWD

Contest encourages students to think about the importance of using water wisely

“We are fortunate to have such talented young artists in our area,” stated OMWD Board President Ed Sprague. “The annual poster contest is a great way for them to show off their talent and gets students thinking about the importance of using water wisely.”

The annual poster contest asks fourth-grade students to use their imaginations to create images that raise awareness on water-related issues. This year’s theme was “Be Water Smart.” The competition has occurred on a yearly basis for 26 years, and is an opportunity to teach students that everyone can take actions to use water efficiently, regardless of age.

Each winner received a prize along with a certificate of honor. North County water agencies will feature the winners’ artwork in their 2020 Water Awareness Calendar which will be available for free from OMWD later this year. The images will also be displayed in OMWD outreach material and on district vehicles.

 

Storage Is Essential For California To Achieve 100% Green Energy Without Blackouts

California’s law mandating 100% carbon-free electricity has a big hole in it. It fails to address energy storage. Batteries as well as other longer-duration energy storage solutions are absolutely essential for a reliable supply of electricity that relies largely on energy resources such as solar and wind, which are available only some of the time. Ordinarily, one might assume the state’s utilities would invest in large storage projects such as pumped storage, an efficient technology allowing the capture and storage of excess renewable energy so we don’t have to waste it. When the sun is shining or the wind is blowing during the day, it pumps water uphill.

An irrigation map that clearly shows the layout of your irrigation system can be very helpful when you need to locate components for repair. Photo: Markus Distelrath/Pixabay

Make a Map of Your Irrigation System

It’s easy (and fun) to produce a landscaping plan showing where every shrub and flower is placed on site. Drawing what you can see is relatively easy.

But what about the irrigation system underneath your landscaping? Do you know the location of your water mainline, irrigation system clocks, valves and sprinkler heads?

Understanding the layout of your irrigation system is important so you can accurately locate components for seamless repair. If you plan on adding to or upgrading the system, you’ll want an irrigation map to guide construction.

Steps to making your irrigation map

First, locate all of the sprinkler heads on your property and mark their location on a copy of your landscaping site plan. Also mark the location of the following elements:

• Water meter or irrigation sub meter, and where the water comes from the street onto your property (the main line)
• Irrigation controller
• Shut off valve for turning off the irrigation system
• Pressure regulator – this may be for the irrigation system separate from the house. If your irrigation comes from a pipe that first serves the house, it may be located before it enters the house.
• Irrigation valves
• Hose bibs
• Backflow preventer – if you don’t have one, your sprinkler valves probably do, so don’t worry

Observe and color code which sprinklers go on at the same time when a valve is turned on.

Adapting your existing irrigation system to a new efficient system

Use your irrigation map to determine which parts will work with a new, more efficient system without abandoning everything and starting from scratch. If you’re removing or renovating most of your landscaping, you might need to alter the irrigation. In that case, starting from scratch can end up being the most cost and time efficient alternative.


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.