Sunday, May 22, 2011

Water Conservation Equals Energy Conservation!

Most Californians understand that swelling populations in the southwest are and will continue to outpace water supply both from the California State Water Project sources and the Colorado River.

Additionally, Golden state residents are learning that water-wise habits in our landscape and gardens can save up to 60 percent of this precious resource. But something many folks aren’t aware of is that there is another compelling reason to reduce excessive water usage: energy conservation.  

The California State Water Project is the largest state-built water and power development and conveyance system in the nation. It includes facilities—pumping and power plants; reservoirs, lakes, and storage tanks; and canals, tunnels, and pipelines—that capture, store, and convey water to 29 water agencies from one end of the state to the other.

The SWP’s watershed begins in the mountains and waterways around the Feather River and Lake Oroville areas north of Sacramento. It continues south through a multitude of conveyance systems and pumping stations finally terminating in the southern most point at Lake Perris in Riverside county. 

Pumping (moving) and treating this water is incredibly energy-intensive! For example, the state water project, with its big pumps that move water over the Tehachapi Mountains to Southern California, is the state’s single biggest user of electricity!

With this in mind we as consumers of this water can make smarter, more informed choices. Collectively we can have a powerful impact on energy consumption in our state. 

How so you may ask? It’s simple, outdated energy-use habits associated with water use from our landscapes and gardens combined with our home appliances such as dishwashers, hot water heaters, and laundry machines — add up to a lot of unnecessary pollution and waste. The California Energy Commission estimates that twenty percent of our state’s electricity is associated with water use, mostly by urban customers.

We all can do our part to reduce excessive water usage with very little effort and lifestyle change.  Turn your tap off whenever possible, upgrade that inefficient water heater or dishwasher when it is at the end of its useful life and install water-wise landscapes and gardens

Remember that adopting smart water-use habits is an easy way that every one of us can have a direct, positive impact on our environment statewide and with a modicum of effort we all can conserve our most precious resources!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sowing California Native Wildflowers

Late autumn is a great time to sow next spring’s annual California wildflower crop in your home garden. California’s indigenous people utilized our native annual seeds as a food staple for thousands of years. Along with other sources of sustenance such as the acorns of our local oaks, California’s wildflower seeds were ground in mortar pits and used as a regular food source called Pinole.
Today, as forward-thinking gardeners we can take a page out of history and continue the tradition of sowing seeds of the many different varieties of wildflowers available. Doing so requires little effort and will reward you with an abundance of annual beauty year after year. 

Start by choosing varieties that naturally occur in the plant community you live in. Not sure which community? Learn more here: California native plant communities

Next, find a reputable source such as Larner Seeds or Tree of Life Nursery and order a packet of seed mix that is appropriate for your property’s micro-climate.

Follow this link for step by step planting instructions for California native wildflowers