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It always bothers me when I drive past suburban office parks in the Chicago area and see lawn irrigation systems at work in the middle of a rainstorm. I have planted mostly native grasses and flowers, and hardly watered them at all this dry summer. Yeah, they did not floweer as much and the flowers did not last long. Still, I would rather have that than be spraying water over a manicured green lawn every day. A lot of research has gone into visual preferences in landscaping. Unfortunately, from a water-saving perspective, most people are not like me. They would rather have the neatly trimmed green lawn instead of the overgrown prairie.
I wonder, though. Water is likely to become the defining issue in many jurisdictions. Ignore the overseas locales - we have major cities, little towns and agricultural regions throughout the west that already do not have the water resources to meet demand. What happens when the aquifers begin to dry up? And as for the Colorado River, well, it already doesn't reach the sea. Yeah, how we use water is something to be concerned about.
I was a planner for Greensboro NC and they are/were facing very serious water problems-yet development *read sprawl* runs rampant. Was it sprawl watch that just ranked the GSO area as the most sprawl? Anyway, irrigation systems, overdone chem type lawns and the urge to have the cleanest car on the block. Ewww
Id rather have a natural type yard, small and easy to keep up-simple no motor push mower for me. But I know thats odd.
What are other areas doing to encurage or discurage wise water planning?
Except for a few ecologically sensitive developments, mostly on the scale of private homes, this whole region has not even concieved of water conservation. Contamination from agricultural chemicals has gotten a little notice. Last year, people got mobilized enough to keep Perrier from putting a plant in the state. But on the whole, nothing is being done. To be honest, water is plentiful herre, and we are not likely to pay much attention until other parts of the country want ours.
I'm just finishing a stint as planning director of a small, exclusive and exclusively residential community here in the Denver area. The City has six thousand residents on six and one half square miles (yes, about thirty thousand square feet per person!). During my career there, the average size of a new home is about 6500 square feet. The older (circa 1950-60) ranch style homes are being removed and replaced with the four-five bedroom, 4-5 bath psuedo mansion with all the bells and whistles. Then there are the outliers. One fellow is building the ultimate bachelor pad--25,000 square feet of house including indoor lap pool, basketball court, taekwon do court and dog apartment.
The Council has considered (with my able assistance) the size problem, but has yet to legislate. The residents who are in, complain that it is their neighbor's six thousand square foot monument to the telecommunications bubble that is changing the neighborhood. The fire marshall has testified to Council that the water mains are not sized to fight a fire in these homes. He also stated that with the size of some of the homes and the fire loads inside, they are more like commercial structures.
Add to this the drought that Colorado has experienced over the last year. We had mandatory water restrictions imposed this year for the first time in twenty years or so including summer watering once every three days and never on Sundays. Winter watering is restricted to root watering of trees only!! Still some people feel the need to purchase a one or one and one half inch water tap for their 6500 square foot mini-manse because of concerns that they will not be able to shower when the sprinkler system is on. Amazing!!! I'm told that a standard three quarter inch water tap will service a six unit apartment!
The disconnect between how we live and our use of resources is no where more apparent.
In the early 80s there was a proposal for Greensboro to divert water from the Pee Dee river basin to help their water problems. I was in Rockingham, and we fought the idea of diverting from one basin to another. Did that ever happen?
BTW, out here on the high plains everyone wants fescue with annual precipitation of less than 20 inches a year.
Well here in Oz water restrictions are a way of life in many Cities including Sydney Perth and Melboune. In Fact Perth has had constant water restrictions for 3 years in a row, due to low dam compacity(~18%) and lowered aquifiers. Some governments here subsidise water tank installation, and advise people to plant water wise gardens. When water restricitions are in place there are fines for those who break it. Where i live, the government provides subsidies for water saving stuff, so our garden is decked out in natives and water hardy plants.
Hard to believe that water estrictions are rare in the US