Water Conservation Plan

Our speaker at our August meeting is our own member, John Brooks who is a Senior Sustainability Analyst for the City of Thousand Oaks.

Half of the United States is in a drought now.  https://www.drought.gov shows a US drought monitor and up to date information.  We are currently experiencing the 3 driest years on record (2020, 2021, 2022).

Thousand Oaks imports its water from the State Water Project (SWP) and we are 100% dependent on the Bay Area/Delta via the California Aqueduct.  We are receiving the lowest ever allocation.  We were promised that the lowest amount we would receive would be one-million-acre feet.  We only received 600,000-acre feet.  That is what drove us to a level 4 water plan where we can only water outside on one day a week.  For irrigation outside, you can water on Saturday for odd addresses and on Sunday for even numbered addresses.  You must use low volume drip irrigation and can only water before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m.  Additional watering is allowed on Wednesdays for playing fields, daycares, schools, gold courses, vegetable beds, and slopes.  Sprinklers are prohibited.  Sprinklers waste about 30-50% of the water used. 

Fuel modification zones are the responsibility of HOAs.  There probably will be water budgets for households in the future.  There are exceptions to the strict watering restrictions for “functional turf” areas and slopes.  There is a complete watering ban for non-functional turf which includes commercial and industrial areas.  You must prove that the turf is actually being used.

The City of Thousand Oaks has 12 million square feet of city landscaping to maintain.  It is in transition as they are taking out old landscaping and old irrigation systems.  They are also only watering one day a week.  They are adding 4-6” of mulch in many areas.  They are preparing to remove dead plants before the Santa Ana winds come this fall.  The city has a water truck that is watering the oak trees.  It’s on about a 10-day rotation.  

In the future we will need to take a watershed approach which includes landscape design, rainwater capture, greywater systems, healthy soil, plants and irrigation, and fire scaping, using home and landscape designs to reduce vulnerability to wildfires..  It is a good time to remove grass lawns in the summer heat, by digging it up and covering the area with sheets of cardboard, and mulch. Artificial turf is a fire hazard!  It has plastic and rubber particles which can be inhaled by children and pets.  Artificial turf kills soil microorganisms.  There are no recycling options for it.  It gets so hot that it needs to be watered!

California native plants use much less water than “drought tolerant” plants.  Some turf options (if we ever can water again) include UC Verde Buffalo Grass (developed at the UC Universities), Dune Sledge (from Theodore Payne Foundation) and Native Mow Free (installed recently at the Huntington Library).  Native Bent Grass is the number one seller from Soils Solutions in Camarillo.

Grey water comes from washing machines, showers, sinks, etc.  For washing machine water, no permit is required.  It is recommended that you use a microplastics filter and eco friendly soap.  You need to evaluate how much volume there actually is.  A standard top load machine as 30-35 gallons of water per load.  An Energy Star front loader might only have 7-15 gallons per load.  A permit is required to put in a greywater system for showers, sinks, etc.  A do-it-yourself project could still cost $1000-$2,000 and requires construction.  A resource for greywater is OasisDesign.net

Resources for Landscape Planning:  Calscape Garden Planner, Ventura County Gardening.com, BeWaterWise.com. For more information: Sustainability Division of Thousand Oaks, gogreen@toaks.org and  www.toakswater.org

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