Oceanside’s Landscape Management Balances Beauty and Water Conservation

Thousands of visitors descend on the beautiful city of Oceanside every week. They are in town to hit the beach, swim or surf, go boating or fishing, and visit the historic Mission San Luis Rey. They come in such numbers that Oceanside’s population can swell from just over 170,000 to nearly 200,000.

All these visitors bring a huge benefit to the local economy. Beautifying the local landscape makes sense for both the well-being of local residents and the increased attractiveness for visitors.

Top-10-tips-Water Conservation-Drought-WaterSmart

Top 10 Tips for Saving Water This Fall

As drought conditions persist throughout the Southwest, the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies continue to actively support the state’s call for a 15% voluntary reduction in water use.

San Diego County residents and businesses can continue WaterSmart practices this fall by following these simple and easy tips to save water. 

Simple Water Saving Tips For Fall

Find a discount. Take advantage of rebates on products that help reduce indoor and outdoor water use. 

Shorten the shower. Keep showers to five minutes or fewer and save 2.5 gallons per minute.

Go low. Install aerators on faucets and low-flow showerheads to instantly save water every time you turn the tap.

Deploy the drip. Irrigate gardens with drip systems that minimize water waste by delivering water right at the roots.

Get smart. Install weather-based irrigation controllers in your landscape to take advantage of the latest smart technology that maximizes water-use efficiency.

Monitor the moisture. Use moisture meters to determine when and how much water plants need.

Embrace the broom. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, and patios.

Check your water footprint. Use an online water-use calculator to assess how much water your home uses compared to a WaterSmart home. 

Turn to a pro. When it’s time to hire a landscaping professional, start with the list of Qualified Water-Efficient Landscapers who can make sure you are making the most of every drop.

Plant with perfection. Check out all the beautiful WaterSmart plant options that pair perfectly with San Diego County’s Mediterranean climate. 

For more tips, resources and rebates, go to

Advancing Oceanside: Water Use Efficiency & Conservation

 This week’s episode of the Advancing Oceanside Podcast from the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce features the San Diego County Water Authority on Water Use Efficiency & Conservation.

Oceanside Chamber host, Hana Gilbert interviews Water Resources Manager Elizabeth Lovsted and Water Resources Specialist Joni German.

Topics included how the SDCWA has saved water by providing programs and incentives, utilizing water-saving devices, advocating for water regulations, and how simply living “WaterSmart”, can help cuts costs and create energy-efficient, water-conscious yards.

Mulching for Water-Use Efficiency

Even though temperatures rarely drop below freezing in most parts of Southern California, many people overlook winter when it comes to caring for their native plants and traditional landscapes. There are many things that can help keep landscapes healthy and water-efficient, especially during the winter months when there is more natural rainfall. One of these things is to use a layer of mulch to prevent water loss and insulate landscapes during colder times.

Person holding organic mulch

Mulching for Water-Use Efficiency

Even though temperatures rarely drop below freezing in most parts of Southern California, many people overlook winter when it comes to caring for their native plants and traditional landscapes. There are many things that can help keep landscapes healthy and water-efficient, especially during the winter months when there is more natural rainfall. One of these things is to use a layer of mulch to prevent water loss and insulate landscapes during colder times.

Mulch types

For maximum sustainability and to support plant health, use a locally sourced and blended organic mulch. If the goal is to create a walking trail or other area that is not intended to grow plants, consider a longer lasting wood mulch or inorganic mulch. Organic mulch may be available at low cost from local landfill recycling centers. For optimum soil and plant health, look for a mulch that has a blend of leaves, stems and woody portions of the plants. This type of blended mulch will break down over time and add organic matter to the soil to support natural biological processes, prevent erosion, maintain soil moisture and support water infiltration into the landscape. In addition, composted blended mulch has gone through a natural maturation process that kills weed seeds and pathogens.

Mulching tips

Apply a layer of mulch three to four inches deep and remember to keep it at least four to six inches away from plant stems to avoid creating a condition that is prone to disease. In areas where the goal is to build the health of the soil, avoid using weed guard type fabrics. Pulling weeds and clearing debris also helps to increase the efficiency of mulch and removes hiding places for pests.

Reduce irrigation costs

With a layer of mulch on your landscape, you can conserve water because the layer of mulch will help keep moisture in the soil – this is especially important because most plants grow deeper roots in the fall and early winter. Be sure to also manage your irrigation by setting your irrigation schedule seasonally, controlling overspray and fixing any other problems promptly.

Winter Landscape Tip: Tell your landscaper about FREE training. Webinars in English and Spanish include sustainable landscape principles and irrigation essentials. Learn more:

Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper training is made possible by the San Diego County Water Authority, its member agencies and the County of San Diego.

Want more tips for water-use efficiency and maintaining your sustainable landscapes? Check the free WaterSmart education classes and on-demand videos:

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.

2020 Urban Water Managment Plan

2020 Urban Water Management Plan Underway

An update to the plan for meeting the region’s long-term water needs is under development by the San Diego County Water Authority, in collaboration with its 24 member agencies. Once completed, the Water Authority’s 2020 Urban Water Management Plan will serve as the long-term guide to ensure a reliable water supply that sustains the region’s 3.3 million residents and its $245 billion economy.

The Water Authority Board of Directors’ Water Planning and Environment Committee is holding a special online meeting at 1:30 p.m. on November 12 for an update on the developing plan.

At the meeting, Water Authority staff will provide an overview of the plan and share preliminary water demand projections for 2025 to 2045. Click here for more information about the Board meeting and agenda which includes an extensive overview of the planning process and a link to the webcast.

Planning process is “critical” 

Urban water suppliers in California are required to adopt and submit Urban Water Management Plans every five years. The Water Authority’s 2020 plan will include information on multiple subjects, including a baseline demand forecast, water-use efficiency savings, imported and local water supplies, a supply reliability assessment, scenario planning, and a shortage contingency analysis.

The Water Authority started the planning process in January 2019 by coordinating with its 24 member agencies to create a long-range baseline water demand forecast.

“This planning process is a critical part of meeting the long-range water supply needs of the San Diego region for both normal and dry year weather conditions,” said Kelley Gage, director of water resources for the Water Authority. “As San Diego faces increasingly unpredictable climate patterns, new state planning requirements will prepare the Water Authority for rare scenarios to continue to be a reliable and dependable wholesale water supplier to the region.”

Urban Water Management Plan elements

Through careful planning and the implementation of a water portfolio approach, the agency has increased the region’s water supply reliability through diversification and innovation.

A draft of the 2020 plan is expected to be released to the Water Authority Board of Directors and the public in January 2021 for a 60-day public comment period. The Board is expected to consider adoption of the final plan in April 2021. The 2020 plans must be submitted to the state by July 1, 2021.

Basic elements of Urban Water Management Plans include:

  • Assessment of the reliability of water supply sources over a 20-year planning time frame
  • Description of demand management measures and a water shortage contingency plan
  • Discussion of the development of imported and local water supplies

New state planning requirements

The California Urban Water Management Planning Act is a part of the California Water Code and requires urban water suppliers in the state to adopt and submit an updated plan to the state Department of Water Resources every 5 years.

State legislation passed in 2018 established new requirements for urban water management plans, which now must include a water shortage contingency plan and drought risk assessment methodology that compares available water supplies with projected water demands. Under these requirements, water suppliers must now plan for a dry period that lasts for five consecutive years, an increase from the previous requirement of three years.

Urban water suppliers are defined as agencies that provide water for municipal purposes to more than 3,000 customers or supply more than 3,000 acre-feet of water annually. The Water Authority and the majority of its member agencies fit this definition.

Otay Water District Poster Contest Winners Illustrate Water-Use Efficiency

Six student artists from schools in the Otay Water District’s service area were named as winners of the district’s 2020 Water is Life Student Poster Contest. Entries were selected as those best demonstrating creativity and awareness of water-use efficiency through art.

WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program

New Rebates For WaterSmart Irrigation Devices in San Diego County

A new rebate program for irrigation devices is available to qualified landscape contractors in San Diego County.

The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program, or WSCIP, is designed to help commercial, public and agricultural property owners improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes, through rebates for irrigation hardware upgrades. School districts, universities, and other organizations are also eligible.

WaterSmart offers water efficiency programs, services and incentives for residents, businesses and farmers in San Diego County.

Rebates for innovative irrigation devices

Qualifying project sites must include at least one acre of irrigated landscape. The rebates are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The incentive program was designed to be business-friendly and is part of the Water Authority’s focus on long-term water-use efficiency,” said Efren Lopez, a water resources specialist with the Water Authority, who manages the new program and the Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper Program.

The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program is a large landscape and technology-focused program, which targets qualified landscape contractors and self-managed sites. The Water Authority’s mission is to improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes by retrofitting irrigation devices.

The program offers a comprehensive package of innovative irrigation devices. Bundling these four items leads to the greatest water efficiency, but at least two items must be installed to participate in the rebate program.

Rebates are offered for the following devices:

  • Smart Irrigation Controllers           $35 per station
  • High Efficiency Sprinkler Nozzles  $6 per nozzle
  • Flow Sensors                                    $60 per sensor
  • Drip Irrigation                                   $0.20 per square foot

The program is funded through Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Member Agency Administered Program. To enroll, or for more information, go to or call (888) 521-9763.

Two California Projects Awarded Reclamation/CALFED Water Use Efficiency Grants for Reliability

The Bureau of Reclamation recently awarded two $500,000 in CALFED Water Use Efficiency grants to two California projects for what is expected to conserve approximately 4,000 acre-feet annually and improve infrastructure for fiscal year 2020. Along with cost-share contributions, these projects at the Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District (SWID) and the South San Joaquin Municipal Utility District (SSJMUD) are expected to implement about $2.7 million in water management improvements during the next two years.