Mayor’s View: DM and the drought: Water conservation begins with you

By Crystal Crawford

Mayor, Del Mar

Living and working in Del Mar, it is easy to forget that much of California is a desert. As such, California has the unfortunate characteristic of being prone to severe droughts, and news about our most recent water shortage shouldn’t come as a surprise.

In an effort to reduce water consumption in landscaped areas, the State of California passed The Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006 (AB 1881). AB 1881 requires the State Department of Water Resources to update the model landscape ordinance with specific ways to improve water use efficiency in urban irrigated landscapes.

To comply with AB 1881, Del Mar will be implementing a landscape ordinance no later than January 1, 2010. In November 2008, the City Council established an Ad Hoc Water Conservation Citizens’ Advisory Committee to review the requirements and help staff develop outreach and education programs. Even though the State has yet to complete the Model Ordinance, our Committee is hard at work.

There are many ways you can reduce the amount of water used in a landscaped area and still maintain the health, appearance and function of your yard. Typically, simply cutting back on the number of days you water during a week will not affect the plants in your yard, but you will save hundreds of gallons of water. Many plants actually flourish with a little less watering. If you water your plants deeply, but less frequently, you encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. Schedule irrigation during early or late hours, when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation, and turn off the sprinklers on windy days.

You can also use water-efficient landscape designs using low water-use plants. Use more mulch to help retain moisture and thereby reduce the need for watering. Simple changes in irrigation systems, such as using more efficient “smart-controllers” that shut off the sprinklers when it rains, and drip irrigation systems, can make all the difference in the world.

Other water saving tips and links to other resources will be coming soon to the City’s Web site. As this drought continues, conserving water must be an even higher priority for all of us. It is clear we need to work together to stretch our existing water supplies. You can help by conserving water inside and outside your home. And, don’t forget, saving water saves energy and money.