Inland Valley Daily Bulletin – By Canan Tasci,
In response to extreme droughts in the 1990s, utility agencies and departments began offering incentives to homeowners who found ways to cut their water consumption.
California is now entering its driest year in eight years, said Sondra Elrod, public information officer for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. It’s time to get serious about saving water, Elrod said.
Water agencies and departments are stepping up their efforts to promote water conservation through high-efficiency washing machines, low-flush toilets and through landscaping that requires less water.
Outdoor water use accounts for about 70 percent of all water use, said Bob Muir, spokesman for the Metropolitan Water District, which provides water for much of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
“Right now, we’re launching the largest public information outreach and education program on water conservation in our history, which dates back 80 years,” he said.
The Cucamonga Valley Water District board is also working to get the message out about water conservation, said Kristeen Buxton, the district’s public affairs officer.
Buxton said the district offers landscaping workshops and gardening tours, and educational programs such as the Kids Environmental Center and school tours.
“We are always looking at ways to conserve and looking at daily habits and how to help people conserve,” Buxton said.
In April, the CVWD hosted its first Landscape Recognition Program to help educate the public and reward those homeowners who are serious about reducing their outdoor water usage.
The three winners, all from Rancho Cucamonga, were Ron Noreen for best do-it-yourself landscape, Tom and Gwen Arbuckle for best native planting landscape and Nancy Laird for best professionally designed landscape. They will receive $250 gift certificates to Dean’s Greens Nursery in Rancho Cucamonga.
The Arbuckles planted climate-friendly plants and flowers, which require less water due to their ability to withstand California’s hot, dry climate.
“We wanted something that was more native and that will not require a lot of watering but still look nice,” said Gwen Arbuckle, 53. “And now, most of our plants are drought-resistant.”
Tom Arbuckle, 57, said it’s amazing how much can be done with a garden while keeping water usage low.
CVSD representative Erin Morales said homeowners can conserve water by doing simple tasks such as fixing leaking sprinklers.
Elrod recommends residents water their lawns 15 minutes right before sunrise four times a week. She also said it’s smart to reuse indoor water.
“Watering outside plants with water that is gathered by that leaky faucet in the bathroom can save 20 gallons a day,” Elrod said.
Laird said won the CVWD recognition for installing artificial turf on her front lawn – an idea she got from the district grounds.
“When I saw it, I called my husband up right away and told him he had to look at it,” she said. “It’s pricey but, in the long run, it’s an investment.”
The artificial turf, which doesn’t require watering, replaced dichondra clover grass, which Laird said required watering twice a day and cost too much to maintain.
Muir said he believes the message of water conservation is being received.
“Every little bit of water wasted is going to create a problem,” Muir said. “I think people are becoming more aware and that people are aware of how precious this resource is.”
“When we had our emergency shutdown to conserve water in February community members had (said) to conserve water by 50 percent, and we ended up conserving water by 60 percent. They responded proactively and quickly,” Buxton said. “As a whole, I believe people are responsible and are understanding they need to start using water wisely.”
For more information on water-smart landscaping, go to bewaterwise.com, or contact your local water district.
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