SAN DIEGO, California – September 28, 2011-- Imagine the scorched earth of a rugged terrain. As the sun beats down upon
the cracked ground, you begin to notice the cacti, lizards, shrubs, and sparse
landscape features that are typical of a desert ecosystem.
Moving through the wide open wilderness we find ourselves coming
upon a lone rider on a plodding, half-dead horse. The immediate dangers are
snakes and exhaustion; however, the even greater threats to the weathered
cowboy are outlaws lurking in the area, waiting to drop in like the vultures
idly circling above him. Regardless of potential dangers he rides on: as we
take a closer look at the weathered cowboy, with his low-hanging head, his body
appears to tell the defeated story of a warrior at the end of his battle. Our
eyes travel up his rusty spurs, past his faithful six-shooter, to discover a
dirty bandage adhered to his cracked skin with dried blood and sweat. You begin
to wonder - was this an injury he received from a tough battle against a local
warring tribe, or the result of a recent shoot-out with lawless bandits? As he
continues to make his way across the barren landscape he has only one goal, one
focus - to get through...Southern California.
Palm trees and verdant grassy landscapes are as natural to the
semi-desert arid climate of San Diego as a cactus in Moscow. Although we expect
a few luxurious amenities in the world’s 37th largest economy, many
typical or traditional choices are completely unsustainable.
As we indulge in modern convenience that requires the exploitation
of a finite resource such as water, we have no choice but to make sacrifices by
either compensation or conservation.
When considering compensation to pay away the problems with a
depleting water supply, also include in that budget the energy expended to
import water (maintaining waterways, filtration, distribution, and
infra-structure upkeep), the cost of water dependence on the local economy
(money leaves the city and county), and the effort our politicians extend
towards water policy to ensure our way of life (as opposed to other crucial
issues we face). Also consider the fact that after supplementing the earth with
fertilizers and pesticides (which each hold their own sets of problems), a lawn
will likely be mowed using carbon-producing gas-consuming tools.
In many ways the solutions to water issues are literally in our
backyard - our landscape. A luxury in Europe, where Napoleon used landscaping
to show power by defying common practice of clearing the land for productive
agriculture, the grass lawn is a constant maintenance nightmare in San Diego,
where it accounts for 66% of the average Southern Californian’s water use.
Water conservation considerations with landscaping are generally
cost-effective and simple: use less water.
Reducing your water use is much less difficult than the average person
would think; consider simply using mulch to retain water and watering earlier
in the morning or later in the evening. Take water conservation up a notch with
residential “greywater”(wastewater generated from domestic processes such as
washing dishes, laundry, and bathing) which is a valuable water resource that
can be recycled to irrigate plants on-site ( e.g. your house). Be sure your
greywater does not contain harsh chemicals like bleach and soaps by using green
If you want to go the extra mile on your established landscape,
consider the “MP Rotator” from Hunter Irrigation (a local business in San
Marcos and an irrigation solutions giant in the industry), which can reduce
irrigation needs by up to 40% by reducing the application rate of water towards
the grounds actual absorption rate (aka less wet sidewalks for everyone).
If you are just tired of paying for pesticides, fertilizers,
mowing, water, and the other costs that go along with a well-manicured lawn,
then consider the very affordable native landscaping concepts created by Susan
Krzywicki from Krzywicki Consulting (San Diego, CA), which will optimize your
backyard to look beautiful and be beneficial for the entire San Diego
environment. To get some tips on turning a green carpet into an SD experience
feel free to stop by the California Native Plant Society's monthly meetings
(Every 3rd Tuesday, Casa Del Prado, Balboa Park) to help maintain
San Diego as the picture perfect postcard by Planting Plants.
Less than 1% of the world's
water is freshwater (vital resource everything alive on Earth needs and
More than 80% of sewage in
developing countries is discharged untreated: polluting rivers, lakes and
coastal areas. Conserving water preserves an
irreplaceable natural resource, while reducing the strain on urban wastewater
management systems. In developed nations wastewater treatment is costly and
requires continuous investment to ensure quality as demand rises. Households, not public agencies, often make the largest investment
in basic sanitation, with the ratio of household to government investment
typically 10 to 1. In just one day, more than 200 million hours of women’s
time is consumed for the most basic of human needs — collecting water
for domestic use. At 40 hours a week it would take 961 years for
a single person to accomplish this this task.
At home the average American uses between 100 and 175
gallons of water a day. In
the world 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies;
approximately one in eight people.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease.
courtesy of Ronnie Das of How Can I Help San Diego. Visit the How Can I Help San Diego
website for more information.