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Water Use in the West Can Hurt…or Help…the Energy Sector, Report Says

A team of researchers have developed a framework to evaluate complex connections between water and energy, and options for adaptations in response to an evolving climate.

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.

Water Use in the West Can Hurt…or Help…the Energy Sector, Report Says

A team of researchers have developed a framework to evaluate complex connections between water and energy, and options for adaptations in response to an evolving climate.

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.

Coronavirus Lockdown Caused Dramatic Changes in Water Consumption, Research Finds

New research has found that the coronavirus lockdown led to dramatic changes in water consumption in England and Wales, and that some of these are likely to continue even after the pandemic.

Opinion: Non-Revenue Water – An Opportunity for Water Utilities, Now More than Ever

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the water industry. Revenue shortfalls from a decline in commercial and industrial water use and some residential customers struggling to pay bills are affecting utilities across the country. The service must go on, but in some cases the revenue lags. Conservative estimates from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies suggest the industry as a whole is expected to lose at least $12.5 billion due to the coronavirus when all is said and done.

Quality of Life Dashboard for San Diego County Highlights Water Use

Water use in the San Diego region was one of the positive trends in the 2020 Quality of Life Dashboard report released today by the Equinox Project. The Quality of Life Dashboard measures and benchmarks environmental and economic trends throughout the region. Half of the 16 indicators used to measure San Diego County’s quality of life were either positive or neutral in 2019.

Quality of Life Dashboard-Water Use

Quality of Life Dashboard for San Diego County Highlights Water Use

Water use in the San Diego region was one of the positive trends in the 2020 Quality of Life Dashboard report released today by the Equinox Project.

The Quality of Life Dashboard measures and benchmarks environmental and economic trends throughout the region. Half of the 16 indicators used to measure San Diego County’s quality of life were either positive or neutral in 2019. The Dashboard tracks the county’s progress on critical quality-of-life issues and provides examples of what is working well and how the region can improve.

Six of the 16 indicators received a “thumbs-up” in the report, including water use, air quality, electricity use and renewable energy & storage. Five indicators, including traffic congestion, received a “thumbs-down.” Two indicators were neutral and three new indicators were added this year: Climate Change & Planning, Civic Engagement, and Regional Leadership in a Time of Crisis.

“The pandemic has shown the inequities that exist in our region as well as how they’re often interrelated,” said Dr. Emily Young, Executive Director of The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego, where the Equinox Project is based. “The pandemic is in some ways instructive of some ways in which climate change will play out in our region in the future as well as ways that may exacerbate equality. It’s also instructive in how our community is coming together to respond to the challenges at hand with strength, innovation and resilience.”

Quality of Life Dashboard-Dr. Emily Young-The Nonprofit Institute-Water Use

“The pandemic is in some ways instructive of some ways in which climate change will play out in our region in the future as well as ways that may exacerbate equality,” said Dr. Emily Young, executive director of The Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego.

Residential water consumption decreased after dry 2018

As part of a long-term trend toward water efficiency and conservation, residential water use in San Diego County decreased from 2018 to 2019.

“Fluctuations in weather, including current La Niña conditions that typically mean a dry winter for California, highlight the importance of diversifying our regional water supply sources and continued investments in the infrastructure to deliver a safe, reliable supply to the region,” said Goldy Herbon, San Diego County Water Authority senior water resources specialist.

Residential Water Use-Quality of Life Dashboard

Residential water use per capita in 2019 decreased as compared to 2018, and remained lower than historical rates. Graphic: The Nonprofit Institute/University of San Diego

“Water use received a thumbs-up because daily residential water consumption in San Diego County decreased by 8.8% from 91 gallons per capita in 2018 to 83 gallons in 2019,” according to the report. “Residential water use still remains below the 2011 pre-drought levels, which at its peak in 2007 reached 119 gallons per capita. The 2018 year was an extremely dry year but the 2019 year saw rainfall return to the level experienced in 2017, which likely contributed to water use returning to its 2017 level.”

Diversification and water management strategies

“San Diego County’s water supply has diversified significantly over the last couple of decades,” according to the report. “While the San Diego County Water Authority has decreased the region’s reliance on water from the Metropolitan Water District which serves parts of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, the region still remains heavily reliant on water from the Colorado River (through water supply purchases from MWD and through water conserved and purchased through the Imperial Irrigation District and through water conserved by lining the All-American and Coachella canals).”

Diversified water-Quality of Life Dashboard-Water Use

San Diego County’s water supply has diversified significantly over the last couple of decades. Graphic: The Nonprofit Institute/University of San Diego

The report also credited the San Diego region’s development of integrated regional water management strategies, which is a collaborative effort aimed at developing long-term water supply reliability, improving water quality, and protecting natural resources.

“The San Diego County Water Authority, along with the City of San Diego and the County of San Diego, has developed an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP), and the IRWMP builds on local water and regional management plans within the San Diego Region,” the report noted. “The IRWMP was developed with input from a diverse group of stakeholders that make up the Regional Advisory Committee, representation includes water management agencies, resource conservation agencies, tribes and nonprofits. The IRWMP was updated in 2019 and includes information on climate change science as well as a stormwater capture feasibility study.”

Diversified supply supports region’s economy

The report says a diversified water supply supports the region’s high quality of life, its thriving economy and a healthy environment.

“Over the past two decades, diversification efforts have helped the San Diego region significantly reduce its reliance on the Metropolitan Water District from 95% in 1991 to 40% in 2018, and a projected 11% in 2020 and 2% by 2035,” according to the report. “Research has shown that a reliable water supply and the infrastructure necessary to store, move, treat, and deliver are essential to the development of an advanced economy. These factors are indispensable for supporting the diversity of industries within the regional economy. Interruptions of the region’s water supply would have severe impacts on all local industries.”

The San Diego Regional Quality of Life Dashboard was launched in August 2010.  This year, eight University of San Diego researchers contributed to the Dashboard to highlight key trends in the region’s quality of life along with a critical focus on equity and how leaders are adapting in the face of the pandemic.

Study: Water Use Dropping in Western Cities Even While Population Grows

Many western cities have been able to shrink their total water use in recent decades, even as their populations grew. That’s the finding of a new study published in the journal Water last week. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with lead author Brian Richter about how simple water conservation measures could be a cost-effective way to combat shortages in the Colorado River Basin.

California Water Service Also Advises Residents to Limit Their Water Usage During These Outages

While PG&E and SCE are required to shut power off in some areas, California Water Service also advises residents to limit their water usage during these outages.

According to California Water Service, they are doing everything they can to make sure water services are not interrupted.

US Home Water Use Up 21% Daily During COVID-19 Crisis

The average US home used nearly 729 additional gallons of water in April than it did in February, according to a new study from water-monitoring company Phyn. This means usage was up 21% daily, as most Americans followed orders to work and shelter from home, in an effort to “flatten the curve” and curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Trump’s Water Jurisdiction Rule: What’s All the Fighting About?

The Trump administration’s long-anticipated water jurisdiction rule has already drawn a half-dozen legal challenges since its April release, with more on the way.