San Diego County residents have until March 5th at 11:00pm to purchase discounted rain barrels online at www.rainbarrelprogram.org/sandiego. The County of San Diego Watershed Protection Program and Solana Center for Environmental Innovation have teamed up to offer the barrels for only $90.
Purchased rain barrels will be ready for pick-up on March 11th, from 9:00am to 1:00pm at the Lakeside River Park Conservancy, at 10354 Channel Road in Lakeside (Directions). Print your purchase confirmation email and bring it with you to pick up your barrel(s).
The county’s webpage at www.rainbarrelprogram.org/sandiego features a video on how to install your rain barrel and a list of the barrel’s features. The 50 gallon rain barrels are made in the U.S.A. using 100 percent recycled materials. They also have a screen over the water inlet to prevent mosquito breeding. The county requires screening and proper maintenance.
After purchasing your rain barrels, go to SoCalWaterSmart.com and apply online for a $35 rebate on up to two barrels. This will save you about 50 percent off the $129 retail price. Act fast as rebates are on a first come first served basis and only last until funding is exhausted.
Prior to purchasing a rain barrel, residents living in a homeowners association (HOA) should check with their HOA to ensure CC&Rs allow for the use of rain barrels and storage of rain water in their communities.
Explore the San Diego County Watershed Protection Program
Explore Solana Center for Environmental Innovation
Photo: Stranded car in floodwaters near San Rafael, California (source: abc7news.com)
The State Water Resources Control Board voted Wednesday to extend emergency drought regulations for another 270 days.
“This is an emergency?” asked State Senator Jim Nielsen. “It’s pretty hard to argue to the public, the citizens of California, that we are now in an emergency.”
A growing coalition of legislators and water suppliers that includes Nielsen, Helix Water District and the San Diego County Water Authority has called on the State Water Resources Control Board to end the emergency regulations. The coalition increased its efforts in the weeks leading up to yesterday’s vote, as rain, snow and flooding inundated California.
The coalition recommends managing current drought conditions at the regional level, as moderate and severe drought conditions are now limited to parts of Central and Southern California and extreme drought conditions are limited to areas of Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
Explore the Issue
Read the San Diego Union Tribune story on the water board vote
Helix WD Feb 6 2016 Letter to Water Board
SDCWA Feb 3 2017 Letter to Water Board
ACWA Feb 3 2017 Letter to Water Board
We love beautiful WaterSmart landscapes, and even more, we love to highlight those that our customers have installed. Join us as we highlight different Helix customers and their beautiful, water-wise, sustainable yards – and get inspired to upgrade your landscape.
Helix Customer Profile
Mt. Helix in La Mesa
When Carey Hultgren and Paul Geldbach purchased their half-acre Mt. Helix home, they became the owners of a 3,000 square foot front yard that included a beautiful pool and a dead lawn. Ready for an upgrade, they participated in the San Diego County Water Authority’s free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program and developed a design plan which included flagstone pathways, a cost-effective conversion of their existing sprinklers to MP rotators and lots of flowering, water-wise plants. They removed the dead lawn, composted over winter and began planting in spring. Currently 50 percent installed, the flowering aloes, colorful bougainvillea and sprawling yellow lantana already enhance their 1930s Spanish-style home.
Q & A with the homeowner
Q: What was here before?
A: We had the remnants of a dead lawn mixed with large expanses of rocky dirt before we started planting. We began by adding several yards of free Miramar landfill compost periodically (for about 2 years before planting). The compost inadvertently worked well as a weed-preventative as it decomposed and made our soil healthier!
Q: Where did your design ideas come from?
A: I had recently been to Palm Springs and stayed at The Alcazar Hotel. They had just completed a significant landscape remodel and I picked their gardener’s brain, I was so inspired. We wanted plants that would thrive in the highly exposed and hot upper terrace above our pool but also wanted floral color to give it a touch of the tropics. We planted fuchsia “Barbara Karst” for background color and coral-pink “Rosenka” bougainvillea in the middle. Hesperaloe Parviflora sent off long, rose-colored flower stems all summer long and the New Gold Lantana is intended to eventually spill over the wall towards the pool deck below. With careful placement, we located a thornless Chilean Mesquite for some filtered shade for the plants. It is at least 25 feet from our pool. We also planted several Blue Flame Agaves, Senecio and Lemon Bean Bush. I googled hundreds of pictures and I especially liked using a contrast of greens – from frosty gray greens to lime greens to deep jewel greens.
Q: What motivated this project?
A: Since moving to Mt. Helix from Bay Park in 2012, we’ve been shocked by the incessant heat of our new climate zone. Although we just loved our new home, we knew we had to rethink our approach to planting and watering – especially with one-half acre to conquer. I always tell people that San Diego County is an irrigated desert and people usually find that funny, but it is so true. Our approach has been a blend of desert plants and Mediterranean succulents with desert trees.
Q: What do you like best about your new landscape?
A: It frames the view down to our pool and the hills of Mexico in the distance. We are now proud of our yard instead of making excuses for it. It can take a beating in the heat and the bougainvillea just keeps blooming and blooming! We have more to do to finish it – refining some of the plants and adding more mulch and adjusting the irrigation, but we are happy with its beginning.
Q: Are you saving water?
A: We never had the lawn when it was living, but unequivocally yes!
Q: Does it take more or less time for maintenance?
A: Given that we had nothing but dirt and weeds before, maybe a little more. Believe it or not, our dirt patch took a lot of work with weed remediation! Since we have planted and mulched, it’s much better at keeping weeds at bay. Plus, I enjoy working on it so much more because now it gives back to me with color and beauty.
Q: Do you have any tips for other homeowners?
A: 1) Rinse and repeat! Use the same plants over and over again for a more finished garden with continuity and intention. Using one or two plants at a time looks random and confusing. A good design seeks repetition, contrast and color repeats. You can really appreciate the plants when you see several of them at once. I confess, against my better judgement I do often buy heat-loving plants spontaneously with only a vague plan for where to put them, especially if I find nice, healthy ones. But I always buy in groupings of five or seven or even nine. I never buy just one!
2) Mix your greens. Explore all the different varieties of greens out there – greens with blue, gray, purple, yellow, even whitish undertones – and blend them for the best effect.
3) Opposites attract! Pair softer, feathery plants with sculptural plants. The visual contrast is striking and beautiful.
Thank you, Hultgren-Geldbach family for sharing your lovely and sustainable landscape with us. If it looks this good already, we can’t wait to see it completely finished.
Inspired to upgrade your landscape but not sure where to start? Consider registering for a free WaterSmart Landscape Program workshop or series of classes.
Do you have a beautiful, WaterSmart landscape that you would like to share with others? Contact us at email@example.com and you could be featured in a future blog article.
In September, Helix’s Ted Salois followed Jesse Adcock, owner of J.R. Bees, who performs live bee removal from the meter boxes of Helix customers. Ted’s story, photos and video clip show just how Mr. Adcock does it.
Why is Helix investing in live bee removal? One reason, which Mr. Adcock explains in the story, is that it is more effective than killing bees. The big reason is bee populations are dwindling, in California and around the world. A study published earlier this year by the United Nations Environment Program found that over 40 percent of pollinators — primarily bees and butterflies — are facing extinction. This matters: according to the report, 75 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of wild flowering plants are dependent on pollination.
Read Saving Hives
Watch the video
Read Six easy ways you can help save the bees
State officials are in the process of establishing a new water use efficiency framework for California. As part of Governor Brown’s last drought-related executive order this past May, the Department of Water Resources was tasked with developing permanent, long-term regulations on how water will be used throughout the state.
Once finalized, the framework will define the maximum amount of water that each water supplier is allowed to provide to residents and businesses within its service area. As currently proposed, staff is concerned the framework could have negative impacts on the economy and quality of life throughout the district, region and state.
Earlier this year, Helix joined forces with other water providers and successfully lobbied the State Water Resources Control Board to base state mandated water reductions on an agency’s actual supply and demand, reducing the district’s state mandated water use reduction from 20 percent to zero. The proposed framework is separate from the temporary state mandated water use reductions and is even more critical as it will establish permanent regulations into the future.
The Department of Water Resources will release the final draft of the framework in November. Click on the links below to read the comments that Helix and the San Diego County Water Authority, the district’s wholesaler, submitted to the state last week.
Helix’s comments to state of California
San Diego County Water Authority’s comments to state of California
Photo: University of Massachusetts