Elizabeth Stump in Castro Valley, CA recently sent us this story about new laws being debated in the San Francisco Bay area that would:
- Limit lawn around new homes to 1/4 of the total landscape. (More is allowed if homeowners can prove they're conserving water in other ways.)
- Require that 80 percent of the remaining landscape be native or drought-tolerant plants, all of which must be surrounded by 2" of mulch.
- Require "effective irrigation systems". (Does this mean irrigation is required or that if you have irrigation, it must be effective?)
This is on top of statewide water restrictions that went into effect this month mandating high-efficiency toilets and putting restrictions on the use of water in the garden. (Hey, Californians, tell us more about that.)
About all that, Stump says: "Though I find my own personal need for expansive lawns unnecessary, I do
find this legislating trend disconcerting. Personally I find this in the same
league as when Berkeley was going to mandate everyone get white/light colored
Anybody else disconcerted, or do you think it's high time the government started regulating home landscapes?
Stump goes on to enlighten us Easterners about what irrigation really conserves water, and why it should be included in any legislation:
One thing they did not cover, that I wish they did, was the use of
subsurface drip irrigation systems. Some years back at the San Francisco Flower
& Garden Show, the Urban Farm Store did a lecture on better irrigation and
water usage[pdf]. They covered subsurface drip irrigation and talked about a test case where
there was sections of median lawns at El Toro base, near San Diego, and how the
old traditional sprinkler head system lead to much of the water being blown away
from target zones and high evaporation rates, due to the near constant winds and
low humidity. They put in a subsurface drip irrigation system and used much
less water and the grass lived and thrived.
I was so impressed with their case study, I plan on installing subsurface
drip irrigation when I redo my sprinkler system – as I have none and I'm relying
on battery timers, hoses and hand-placed sprinklers.
What Water Conservation Laws are you Seeing?
Stump ends with the suggestion we ask our dry-climate readers sort of water-use mandates are in effect or being considered where they live. And if they're in effect, are they working?