The unusually wet winter season in the Coachella Valley hasn’t solved all of our drought issues, as despite the abundance of rain, the hydrologic issues from California’s years-long drought will take years to recover. It’s due to this fact – and the recognition that California generally is perennially in a state of drought -- that the governor has determined that the stringent irrigation requirements implemented over the last few years will remain in place. In a sense, this is GREAT news, in that the beautiful drought tolerant aesthetic most Southern Californians are learning to appreciate in their landscaping is as relevant as ever.
The hard truth is that California will always be short of water. Many entities compete for our fickle supply of water: Agriculture and food production use 80% of our water; but this scale of water use in California is not sustainable. We are pumping groundwater at a faster rate than it can be replenished. As a result, groundwater levels in much of the state, including the once-vast reserves beneath the Central Valley, have been declining for nearly a century. Our recent wet winter will not reverse the long-term decline of water in California. The sobering news is that resolving our issue of drought doesn’t solve our problem of groundwater sustainability.
What can we do to be a part of the solution? For starters, the water efficient design and landscaping implemented to mitigate water shortages in Southern California are no less important in sustainability efforts. Choosing drought tolerant plants, which can be as beautiful as they are practical, is a wise decision for homeowners, HOAs, apartment complexes, recreation areas, etc. For a great list of drought tolerant plants, please see our past blogs about bulletproof plants: http://www.rgapd.com/blog/item/3-bulletproof-plants, http://www.rgapd.com/blog/item/10-bulletproof-plants-summer-2016-edition.
Another helpful resource is the Coachella Valley Water District’s website. They have many links and articles on water use restrictions, reporting water waste and water conservation. http://www.cvwd.org/31/Conservation
Water is the most basic, abundant, and essential natural resource. So why is California experiencing such shortages that the government has called for emergency regulations and mandatory cutbacks? Over 70% of the earth’s area is water and of that, 10% is potable. This historic drought – recording the driest years in the state’s recent history – has greatly affected river and reservoir levels (the largest two of which are only at 57% of their normal levels for this time of year). This information is important for Californians to know so they can be a part of the effort to conserve water – on both small and large scales.
Personally and in your homes, there are many things you can do to cut back on your water usage. Click on this link for helpful suggestions from Save Our Water, who is partnered with the Coachella Valley Water District (and many other cities and water districts throughout California) to find out what you can do to make an impact in the water conservation effort. http://saveourwater.com/what-you-can-do/
On a larger scale, sustainable landscapes that are water efficient are crucial to California’s water conservation efforts. In the desert, there is a paradigm shift from lush green lawns being the standard of beauty in landscape design, to vibrantly colored native plants as an aesthetic improvement. RGA, recognized experts in the field of low water use irrigation design, is passionate about being a part of the future of sustainable landscaping in the Coachella Valley. For examples of some traditional landscapes that are water-wasteful, which we have redesigned to be water-wise, view a gallery of some of our projects here: http://www.rga-pd.com/landscape-architecture-projects/country-clubs-resorts-hotels.