Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Conserve water. Bathe with the family.

Santa Cruz is heading for the driest rainy season since 1976-77. In fact, most of the west is heading for a desert wonderland. Sure it's beautiful here, and we pay for paradise living coast (regardless of the value nose dive), but unless water conservation continues, development kept in check, and desalination becomes a reality, we will live in a beautiful coastal desert.

That may be an exaggeration; I hope it is. However, the State of California's proposed Recycled Water Policy starts with this:

"California is facing an unprecedented water crisis. The collapse of the Bay-Delta ecosystem, climate change and continuing population growth have combined with a severe drought on the Colorado River and failing levees in the Delta to create a new reality that challenges California's ability to provide the clean water needed for a healthy environment, a healthy population and a healthy economy, both now and in the future."

Thankfully one of my neighbors and fellow homeowner association board members works for a local eco-friendly, environmental landscape consulting services, and many other cool regulatory land compliance things (that I don't fully understand), firm – Allterra (Allterra Environmental, Inc.).

He did some research for our development and came up with these numbers:

  • We use approximately 775 gallons per day for watering our "drought resistant" plants (holy crap)
  • A rough estimate for our annual development's water use is 45,600 gal/yr x 15 homes = 699,000 gal/yr
  • Conversely, one storm can dump 18,000 gallons of rainwater on our community
  • In an average year, over 550,000 gallons of rainwater falls on our community (we used 280,000 gallons for landscaping in 2008)
  • 600 gallons of rainwater falls off our rooftop in one large storm
  • Nearly 18,000 gallons of rainwater drain off our rooftop in one year

Although his suggestions to conserve water were specific to our development, there still pertinent to share for any neighborhood in the west:

Automatic Sprinklers

  • Make sure the rain-sensor is activated
  • Make sure the sprinklers are off during rainy periods
  • Make sure the sprinklers are directed toward plants (not sidewalks)

Rain Gutter Downspouts

  • Direct downspouts into flower beds (not directly into storm drains)
  • Utilize rainwater collection tanks (they can be connected to garden hoses or drip systems) – check out Rainwater HOGs


  • Plant native species, which are typically more drought resistant than non-native
  • Grass lawns require massive water and should be replaced the lawn with landscaping that requires less water


  • Simple berms and dikes can be used to direct water runoff away from storm drains and into planter beds
  • Adding French drains or drain rock water collection areas would enhance drainage
  • Benefits include lower irrigation water costs and a reduction of nonpoint source (NPS) pollution from surface runoff

So after all this sobering and insightful information, we took a family bath. Good times.

Rubber Ducky, you're so fine

And I'm glad that you're mine

Rubber Ducky I'm awfully fond of…

Rubber Ducky I'd like a whole pond of…

Rubber Ducky I'm awfully fond of you.

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