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WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winner Creates Wildlife Habitat

The winner of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest created a wildlife habitat by removing grass and replacing it with climate-appropriate plants. The District’s Board of Directors honored Laura Lisauskas as the winner of the contest during its September 9 meeting.

2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest-Olivenhain Municipal Water District-WaterSmart

WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winner Creates Wildlife Habitat

The winner of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest created a wildlife habitat by removing grass and replacing it with climate-appropriate plants.

The District’s Board of Directors honored Laura Lisauskas as the winner of the contest during its September 9 meeting.

Lisauskas purchased her home in 2018 and decided to remove the existing grass and replace it with a more attractive, climate-appropriate landscape. In addition to being water-efficient, the new layout has created a habitat for pollinators and local wildlife, provided fruit for her family, and enhanced the beauty of her neighborhood.

Water-efficient, WaterSmart landscape

The new landscape is water-efficient, eye-catching and has created a habitat for pollinators and local wildlife. Photo: Olivenhain Water District

The new landscape is water-efficient, eye-catching and has created a habitat for pollinators and local wildlife. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Her design divided the garden into multiple interest points and color schemes to highlight different plant collections. Lisauskas even designed and constructed the dry-stacked retaining wall herself.

“Ms. Lisauskas has captured the range of textures and colors found in some of our most beautiful local natural landscapes,” said Bob Kephart, Olivenhain Municipal Water District board director. “Her inspiring, water-efficient landscape is a prime example of using climate-appropriate plants and rainwater harvesting elements to conserve water and reduce pollution from runoff.”

The colorful winning WaterSmart design was inspired by the diversity of San Diego County’s ecosystems and features a variety of native and low-water-use plants including California Poppy, Blue Bells Emu Bush, and Pink Rockrose. The landscape utilizes drip irrigation and onsite rainwater collection, further reducing outdoor water use.

Landscape makeover attracts pollinators

The winning landscape was inspired by diverse San Diego County ecosystems and features a variety of native and low-water-use plants including California Poppy and Pink Rockrose. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The winning landscape was inspired by diverse San Diego County ecosystems and features a variety of native and low-water-use plants including California Poppy and Pink Rockrose. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The Watersmart Landscape Contest is held annually by water agencies throughout San Diego County to showcase attractive landscapes that use less water than conventional turf-heavy landscapes. Winning entries exhibit excellence in curb appeal, climate-appropriate plant selection, design, efficient irrigation, and environmental considerations.

The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program offers free, online classes: https://landscapemakeover.watersmartsd.org/

WaterSmart-Landscape Makeover-Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Before and after view of the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner’s home. Photos: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Sweetwater Authority Awards Grant to Promote Water Efficiency and Education

Chula Vista, Calif. – On Wednesday, September 9, the Sweetwater Authority Governing Board received a presentation from A Reason To Survive on how grant funding from the Authority will be used to educate the community on water issues.

Rebates for WaterSmart Irrigation Devices

Rebates for WaterSmart irrigation devices are available in San Diego County to help property owners reduce expenses by improving water efficiency.

The rebates, offered for a limited time by the San Diego County Water Authority, provide significant savings on devices for outdoor landscapes.

Welcoming La Mesa Landscape Wins 2020 WaterSmart Contest

Tim and Brianna Montgomery of La Mesa transformed a thirsty lawn to a welcoming, water-efficient English inspired cottage landscaping, winning the Helix Water District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The contest is an annual competition recognizing outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

Proposed Changes to County Landscape Ordinance Would Reduce Water Use by 40%

The County’s Planning & Development Services is preparing to release draft documents for public review this week related to the project called Water Efficiency Updates to the Landscape Ordinance.

This project will update the County’s Landscape Ordinance to codify requirements set forth by the County’s Climate Action Plan Measures W-1.2 and A-2.1. PDS began implementing these requirements upon approval of the CAP in 2018 through the CAP Development Checklist and existing landscape review process within PDS.

 One result of the ordinance will be to reduce outdoor water use in new and existing residential and non-residential landscaping 40% from 2014 levels.

Facts About California’s Water Legislation and What it Means for South Lake Tahoe

No, you’re not going be fined for taking a shower and doing laundry on the same day. A news story by a Los Angeles area television station and carried through the internet on New Year’s Day wrongly stated just that as an effect of upcoming water efficiency laws.

KTLA has since taken that story down, but not before people across the state shared it, stating each person in the state could only use 55 gallons of water a day before being fined starting January 1.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar embarked on a water conservation program about a decade ago and, through a $6 million investment, decreased its potable water use by more than 40% since 2007. (Left to right: Mick Wasco, MCAS Miramar Utilities & Energy Management Branch Head; MCAS Miramar Commanding Officer Charles B. Dockery; Gary Bousquet, Water Authority Deputy Director of Engineering). Photo: Water Authority

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Receives Water Efficiency Award

The San Diego County Water Authority today presented its 2019 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for significantly reducing its overall potable water use.

The reduction was achieved through a successful water conservation program and new infrastructure for distributing reclaimed water. The award was announced at the Industrial Environmental Association’s 35th Annual Environmental Conference at the San Diego Convention Center.

The award is part of the Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, and an effort to recognize water-efficiency investments among the region’s top industries and organizations in conjunction with the IEA.

Shared history in the region

“The Water Authority shares a unique history with our military – we were created in 1944 to deliver imported water supplies to support our troops and communities at the height of World War II,” said Jim Madaffer, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “San Diego County has the largest concentration of military personnel in the world, and we are very proud that they are so committed to water efficiency and preserving our most important natural resource as they carry out their mission to protect our country.”

As one of the largest Marine Corps Air Stations and with more than 12,000 civilian Marines, contracted employees, service members and their families aboard the base, MCAS Miramar plays a crucial role in the San Diego region and in supporting our nation’s strategic defense. To that end, MCAS Miramar has and will continue to use unique and innovative solutions to maximize its resiliency, and lower dependence on natural resources. MCAS Miramar is a water customer of the City of San Diego.

“We are committed to implementing sustainability practices and principles that enhance training opportunities, sustain our incredible quality of life in San Diego County, and preserve the natural environment,” said Captain Matthew Gregory, director of communications for MCAS Miramar. “We are honored to receive this acknowledgement of the good work we are doing at Miramar in a region that has made such incredible strides in improving water-use efficiency.”

Investment in a multifaceted conservation program

MCAS Miramar embarked on a water conservation program about a decade ago, and through a $6 million investment, MCAS Miramar decreased its potable water use by more than 40% since 2007.

In 2015, the commanding officer formed a water conservation board tasked with reducing the base’s overall potable water use. The base now has a total of more than 5 miles of reclaimed water distribution systems, an increase of 47% from two years ago. This reclaimed water infrastructure as well as other water efficiency projects has allowed the base to save more than 100 million gallons of potable water each year.

Reclaimed water at the base is now being used for irrigation, construction-related activities, dual-plumbed buildings, street sweeping and soon for evaporative cooling. In addition, MCAS Miramar converted all aircraft and vehicle wash racks to isolated recirculated water systems, conserving 75% of the water used to wash essential equipment.

Bringing industrial environmental leaders together

“MCAS Miramar is a prime example of efforts by our region’s largest employers to make the most of every drop of water,” said Jack Monger, CEO of IEA. “I’m confident that our members will continue to develop innovative water-saving practices and technologies.”

The Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water program, developed in partnership with its 24 member agencies, was designed to bolster regional appreciation for the value of safe and reliable water supplies. That effort includes enhanced partnerships to highlight the importance of water reliability to the region’s economy.

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Receives Water Efficiency Award

The San Diego County Water Authority today presented its 2019 Water Innovation & Efficiency Award to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for significantly reducing its overall potable water use.

The reduction was achieved through a successful water conservation program and new infrastructure for distributing reclaimed water. The award was announced at the Industrial Environmental Association’s 35th Annual Environmental Conference at the San Diego Convention Center.

The award is part of the Water Authority’s Brought to You by Water outreach and education program, and an effort to recognize water-efficiency investments among the region’s top industries and organizations in conjunction with the IEA.

How Much Water Do Plants Need?

It’s important to assess how much water your outdoor plants need to stay healthy. The heat and humidity in San Diego County is far from over, with the official start of Fall September 23. Irrigation needs are generally highest during these warm months.

Did you know that plants can be classified by their water needs?

Landscaping professionals use a resource called the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species, or WUCOLS, to classify plants according how much water they need to thrive.

It might sound complex, but it’s very useful because it breaks down the water requirements for each type of plant. There are four categories: Very Low, Low, Moderate, and High. These water requirements are also called Plant Factors. They are an important tool for transitioning to a more water-efficient landscape. By knowing exactly how much water your plants need, you can cut down on your water usage while also keeping your plants happy.

Calculating water requirements for outdoor plants

To calculate a Plant Factor, compare the plant’s water use to cool season grass in a given climate zone.

Why is that? Turf is among the thirstiest of all types of plants. When you replace turf areas with climate-appropriate plants with lower water requirements, and irrigate them with more efficient systems, you can greatly increase your water efficiency. You don’t have to turn your landscaping into a dry moonscape to do it.

Plant factors, or PF, categories:

Plant Factor categories from high to low water use. Graphic: Water Authority

High: Plants need from 60 to 100 percent of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of 0.6 – 1.0)

Moderate: Plants need 30 to 60 percent of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of 0.3 – 0.6)

Low: Plants need 10 to 30 percent of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of 0.1 – 0.3)

Very Low: Plants need 10 percent or less of the water needed for a grass lawn (PF of less than 0.1)

Group plants by PF to irrigate more efficiently

In the Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping guidebook, plant selections are color-coded to identify their water needs under this system. That approach provides an easy way to group plants by their water requirements in your landscape, so you can irrigate more efficiently.

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.