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Winning Yard 2006

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Water Conservation

Does Xeriscape Save Water?
A question I'm asked frequently is about how much water do I save a month, or year since adding this type of landscape. I knew I was saving but I didn't know how much or even how to figure it out. But several articles were written at Voice of San Diego about the water usage of our elected officials, which got me thinking about doing some research. (Here's links to the articles: In Water Conservation, City Officials Ignore Their Own Advice (Sept. 12, 2007), Peters Hasn't Curbed Water Use (Jan. 24, 2008), and DeMaio Is Heaviest Water User Among City Officials.)

So based on the information given I was able to at last figure this out. According to San Diego's Water Conservation tips the average household usage is 14 hundred cubic feet (HCF) a month. Going by my water bill, I was able to average out all the months of 2008 and came up with 9.42 HCF on an annual monthly basis. I finally dug up my old bills and put them in an excel spreadsheet, and my starting average in 1998 was 18.08. But the yard had been mostly removed by 1999 it had jumped up to 18.50. Steadily each year the amount has come down, and at this point it appears I've cut my water usage in half. I wish I had the bills when we moved in and the lawn was still here but they are gone.

Yearly Averages:
  • 1998 - 18.08
  • 1999 - 18.50
  • 2000 - 17.25
  • 2001 - 15.00
  • 2002 - 16.08
  • 2003 - 13.25
  • 2004 - 12.33
  • 2005 - 10.83
  • 2006 - 9.75
  • 2007 - 10.25
  • 2008 - 9.42
  • 2009 - 8.50
  • 2010 - 7.00
Luckily things have taken off so well and I actually have several shady-ish areas under two of the trees, which really makes a difference not only in watering, but in keeping this area cooler which in turn doesn't blow as much hot air into the house. It also provides a very nice nature-made privacy screening for the front of the house.

I don't calculate much of that information anymore. We've had a severe drought in California and the state and city has done very little to help things out. Our city built and opened a large water fountain in downtown in an effort to draw people to a dying mall. A water fountain? in the middle of a drought? Water for me but not for thee. This sounds trivial, but it is only one of the things they've done. I don't care anymore. I did what I wanted with my yard and during this past couple of summers it has suffered greatly with the water restrictions. I've spent tons of money on my plants. I'm not going to let then die this year. Then National Geographic offered a documentary on the California's water heist. Truly disgraceful. Take a look at the states largest water user and tell me this is okay.

Also I need to point out, that while we have always had our wildfire threats, the last ten years have been of a completely different intensity. I am at this point inclined to say that with residents not watering their yards they are ultimately leaving many neighborhoods unprepared to fight or stop fires in a more natural way. There are an amazing amount of trees dead in most of the communities I've driven through. Why is the city not removing them? Or at least encouraging homeowners to do so? This cavalier attitude by the city and state has me worried. What is afoot?