Turn down the tap on lawns

DOWNEY - Water rate increases have been in effect for the past week in Downey. Single family residential accounts, which constitute 84% of rate payers, according to the Public Works Department, will see a rate increase of sixty-eight percent at the end of five stepped increases culminating in July 2015.The same will be true for three other types of rate payers: multi-family residences, non-residential and recycled water accounts. This four-year 68% increase includes the additional cost of water only and does not include an increased bi-monthly fixed meter charge, which varies for the four types of rate payers, but for single family residences is up 71%, from $7.80 to $13.43, beginning with the rate increase commencing last Friday. While a water price increase can be unsettling after 16 years at the same rates, this presents a marvelous opportunity to actively and thoughtfully adjust to a water environment in Southern California that will always be fragile and tenuous, unless you make changes to protect yourself from these uncertainties. In this light, the most important thing you can do is use less water on your lawn. Wide-ranging data indicates that from 30 to 70 percent of residential water use is for landscape irrigation. A significant part of this usage comes from overwatering and overspray or run-off. In all probability, your lawn will do just fine with less water. Ideally, water deeply twice a week in the early morning (in order to minimize evaporation). Secondly, check your watering patterns for overspray and run-off and adjust sprinkler heads and water pressure accordingly. This is a significant source of water waste in Downey, as anyone can tell from a morning walk through the neighborhoods, where driveways and curbs are soaked and water runs in the gutters. This is illegal, by the way, but not currently enforced, so the best thing you can do is to approach it proactively, and in the process save yourself some money. There is much more to explore on the subject of water use, and there are many online resources with an abundance of valuable information. One of the best is bewaterwise.com, sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Lars Clutterham is a Downey resident and charter member of the city of Downey's Green Task Force and Downey Chamber of Commerce's Green Committee.

********** Published: July 7, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 12