While we all limit our showers, turn off the water while brushing our teeth and check our irrigation systems to stem the effects of the governor’s drought declaration, there are significantly heavier water users also looking to conserve.
Our parks and green spaces take up a lot of water, so it makes an abundant amount of sense that the city of San Mateo would host a conservation workshop last week. And when you look at the attendance numbers — about 150 people — it’s evident that conservation is on people’s minds.
The city itself is trying to find new ways to meet two goals — keep its parks green while also saving water. The city pays about $471,000 a year for irrigation despite the fact that two of its largest green spaces — Central Park and the Poplar Creek Golf Course — use well water. Still, with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s request of a 10 percent voluntary reduction, there are always new ways to conserve. Some of those new ways include technology like soil monitoring systems and weather sensors but there is also exploration of reducing water where possible while still keeping plants alive.
The drought is real, but recent rain and the possibility that there may be a wet El Nino weather system during the coming summer months may have some people thinking that conservation is no longer necessary. But think of it also in larger terms, that the less we use, the more we’ll have stored for times we need it while also reducing our overall costs. And in addition to the cost savings, conservation is also key to avoiding disputes between areas that need it — smelt in the Delta and farmers in the Central Valley.
While it usually takes a crisis to change behavior, sometimes the results can be best for the long term.
Individual water users know the drill and brown lawns are now in style. But thinking about ways to conserve water at a municipal and regional landscape level is at all times a worthwhile and important activity. After all, as our population grows, we will only need more of it, not less.