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Wising Up to Water Waste
Shannon Hogan Cohen | Luneta Drive

Candace Vanderoff presenting at Del Mar Garden Club’s Water Conservation workshop. Photo Shannon Hogan Cohen.
Click on image to enlarge.

As part of the Del Mar Garden Club’s water conservation series, a workshop was held on Monday, February 23rd with Candace Vanderhoff of RainThanks. It was a well-attended gathering of water-minded residents from Del Mar and surrounding cities.

The landscape that morning was dewy from the rain shower we received the night before; Mother Nature’s timing was apropos. We were reminded that 90% of our water is imported from Northern California and the Colorado River and an important source of water for us here in California. The increasing demands coupled with our severe drought status, are leading us to find new ways to manage our reliance on the Colorado.

In Southern California, half of the water goes towards landscape irrigation. Drought and managing reliance are ongoing concerns. We must acknowledge that our own individual contributions to sustainability are key. This can only happen if we start in our own backyards.

Topics discussed ranged from integrated landscape using free broken concrete for terracing and walkways to preferred chemical-free detergent for greywater use. (For those who are not familiar with the term greywater, it is unprocessed waste water from your shower, bathroom sinks and washing machine. The objective is to redirect greywater to our landscape and use it as irrigation.) The realities of our water issues have alarmed us many times and it is our responsibility to protect the environments in front of us and present the future generations with stability through our own practices of water conservation. The following are a few recommendations that are useful for our community water conundrums:

Water Wise Tip #1 – Change your landscape watering strategies immediately. Pay attention to irrigation overspray and lower your water use by planting native plants, succulents and edibles. Assess your property to understand where water is flowing and familiarize yourself with the terms “bioswales” “curb cut” and “rain gardens.” All represent different methods to capture rainfall runoff.

Water Wise Tip #2 –Begin capturing rainwater by utilizing rain barrels. They come in various shapes and sizes. The capacities range from 50 gallons to a 200 gallon rain tank. Begin harvesting rain fall immediately. Consider this piece of data - one inch of rain on 1,000 square feet of surface equates to 623 gallons of water.

Water Wise Tip #3 – Purchase a rhythmic rain chain to initiate water saving practices. This is an alternative to a downspout. Their purpose is mostly decorative. However, they make a unique water feature by transporting rainwater from the gutter downwards to either a drain or to your new rain barrel. How delightful would it be to see more homes in our community equipped with this simple water harvesting technique?

Water Wise Tip #4 - Call a company like Rain Thanks that offers building, design and consulting services. These project based firms work with individuals to create a regenerative water culture in home environments.

Water Wise Tip #5 - Report water waste to the City of Del Mar either through the online report register or calling directly. A few examples may be excessive runoff along the streets, malfunctioning irrigation components or watering during a rainstorm.

The most important task - be part of the solution, not part of the problem. As a community we can make an impact. Experiment with new practices in capturing water and influence your neighbors to do the same. Instead of oohing and ahhing over our neighbors’ holiday decorations, we should commend them for the way they safeguard their water.


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