You have probably heard by now that Southern California is in the midst of a severe drought. How severe? It depends who you listen to and the degree of hysteria they choose for their particular brand of reporting. It has been going on for at least three years, while some sources see it as part of a 15 year mega-drought and others say it has been proceeding for decades. California governor, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, never one to shy away from hyperbole for politics’s sake, has called it epochal. This is for certain … reservoirs are historically low, some virtually empty. The state has mandated a 20% reduction in water use, with individual counties and cities determining how to enforce the reduction. In most places, hosing down driveways and patios or using a hose to wash a car can result in $500 fine. Most cities have also instituted a twice a week watering rule that also limits how long you can water on each sprinkler station. Here in Anaheim Hills, even numbered homes water on Thursday and Sunday and odd ones water on Wednesday and Saturday for a maximum of 8 minutes each station. I have read that in Socal’s warm summer climate, lawns can not survive that level of watering.
Yorba Regional Park, my office away from home, has started to show the effects of the restrictions. The grass is no longer bright green, but a sort of yellow-green with patches of brown. The water level in the lakes, which are filled from county water, has fallen several feet below last year’s levels. If you were to drive though our neighborhood, I doubt that you would notice that watering restrictions are in effect. Most of the lawns are green and healthy and if you happen to drive through early in the morning, you’d see sprinkler systems running on any day of the week. Perhaps that will change when the drought police turn up. My lawn, particularly the back one, is looking pretty grim. I’ve tried to stick to the twice a week rules, but in the interest of keeping the lawn alive, I occasionally do a short watering under the cover of darkness. I have begun replacing ornamentals with drought resistant succulents which don’t require watering every day, and surprise, they really look nice even if they are close relatives of cactus. But replacing lawns is a big step and in a neighborhood of upscale houses with beautiful lawns, what would that do to property values? So, for now, it’s do the best we can with the lawns until we see what this winter brings. And try not to notice that our lawn is browner than everyone elses.
I don’t like having the worst lawn in the neighborhood and I’m not enough of an environmentalist to take pride in my dead lawn. But I also have a conscience and can’t bring myself to ignore the watering restrictions entirely. I was in Home Depot Friday, looking for some liquid fertilizer that might help. The saleswoman led me to the proper product and I told her that none of the other lawns in my neighborhood seemed to be dying. Oh, in my neighborhood they are all brown, she said. I asked, Where do you live? Brea, she said, How about you? I live in Anaheim Hills, I answered. Maybe the rich people don’t have as much of a conscience, she said. The truth is, that’s what I’ve been thinking, too. If it’s true, it’s a sad commentary. Could all those Democrats on Facebook be right? Nah.