By Nolan Patrick Smith
High Desert Daily
(Apple Valley) Water conservation is something that we hear about all the time. In the High Desert, it is especially important. Our community has always been buzzing about water conservation, and for good reasons. Our climate is one that doesn’t see much rainfall or snowmelt, which makes for a limited supply of water. We can all do our part in making sure that water, our most precious and needed resource, is around for generations to come. In this article, we will be speaking with two companies that know water better than most: the Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company and the Mojave Water Agency.
Why is water conservation so important, especially in our very own High Desert? That’s the question we asked Scott Weldy, General Manager of Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company. “Sustainability. If we had no new construction going forward we would still have internal growth, families having more children. The truth is we are positioned in an area of future growth, and conservation is the key part of water sustainability.”
The sustainability of water should be on all of our minds, and yet it isn’t. We know there are certain parts of the day where water is being wasted in our very home, in literally our own backyards. Weldy touched on a few ways that we can all help out; small ways that add up to a massive difference. “The ‘low hanging fruit’ in conservation are the easy things we all can do with internal water use; washing full loads when doing laundry or using the dishwasher, not letting the water run when you brush your teeth, having low flow toilets and shower heads, and avoiding water waste in general in the home.”
“The high water consumption is primarily from outdoor water use. Efficiently irrigating our grass uses about 55 gallons of water per square foot of grass per year, so a 1,000 square foot lawn in the front yard uses about 55,000 gallons of water per year. Add the trees, shrubs and flowers and you have a considerable amount of water use, and that’s if we are NOT overwatering. And we’re still in the front yard!” Weldy said. “Removing or reducing the amount of grass, using water efficient sprinkler heads if you keep some grass, and using drip irrigation with desert adaptive plants will reduce your outdoor water use as well.”
The Mojave Water Agency, provided us with some helpful tips that pertain to the season. “As summer comes to a close, it is very important for people to prepare their irrigation timers for the cooler temperatures. As temperatures get lower, freezing can occur overnight.”
MWA recommends watering later in the morning, as it prevents freezing and plant damage. Also, “planting native and drought tolerant plants during the fall will help get them established before spring by maximizing root growth and preparing the root zone with deep, slow watering that will benefit the plants during the hot summer and fall months.”
Of course, one of the most recognizable forms of water conservation in the desert is the successful “Cash for Grass” program from the Mojave Water Agency. With the application acceptance period for the program opening on September 4th, now is the perfect time to think about a change in the yard. Alaniz gave us a run down on the popular program and why now is the time to act, “We encourage the removal of turf during the fall and winter so that: 1) the work can be done when it’s cooler and people seem more willing to get started when it is not so hot; and, 2) the plants that will be replacing their turf will get better established and show more beautiful growth within the first year of their landscape conversion. If homeowners are watering and mowing their lawns, but not using or enjoying them, then maybe it’s a good time to consider replacing them with beautiful desert smart alternatives through the Cash for Grass program.”
For more information on water conservation, including more helpful tips to make a difference, visit the Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company online at www.avrwater.com, the Mojave Water Agency at www.mojavewater.org, and the Town of Apple Valley’s Green Apple site, www.greenapplevalley.org.