Monday, November 2, 2009

Water in California

Water is the theme of the week in California.   A state-sponsored workshop today highlighted that all municipalities in CA are required to have a landscape watering efficiency ordinance by January 1, 2010, and the state Dept. of Water Resources will have to report on the status of compliance by January 1, 2011.  If no action is taken, CA has a Model Water Efficiency Landscaping Ordinance that will automatically go into effect.  Meeting highlights and technical notes include:
- "It is illegal to waste water" according to staff member of the Department's Water Use and Efficiency Branch, and California Constitution Section 2, Article X. 
- Certain landscapes are exempt from the ordinance.  
- The state has an Evapotransporation database (ETO) as guidance for regional watering needs.  ETAF of 0.7 is required for projects installed after Jan 1.  ETAF of 1.0 is permitted for edible landscapes (good -- we clearly have greater water needs when growing our own food), parks, golf courses (but let's xeriscape golf courses instead), and other landscape types.   

- use native, place-adapted plants! 
- install an irrigation controller, read the manual and learn how to adjust the settings. 
- use drip irrigation rather than spray irrigation, and deliver the water to where it is really needed (primarily edibles)
- observe for signs of irrigation problems (i.e. dry spots, ponding, and erosion).  
- if you see water running onto pavement, you're over-irrigating
- install a rain shutoff device
- check for leaks, sprinkler head misalignments, broken pipes, and blown-out irrigation devices twice per month.  Pressure regulation is key -- the pressure in water systems can often blow out irrigation fixtures (and you see this where water is bubbling out, rather than a fine spray)
- regularly clean filters in sprinkler heads and drip systems

Also, the California Tribal Water Summit takes place Wednesday, November 4, and Thursday, November 5, 2009, and is designed to get tribal water issues feedback to the state.  One concern is that it is not clear how the tribal process is integrated into other Dept. of Water Resources decision-making process (2030 Water Plan, Integrated Water Management processes, etc.).  DWR will have to be really coordinated to pull this off in a way that helps tribes.  

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