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The California Problem

 
Rufus Laggren
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http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/04/03/california_drought_the_state_s_snowpack_is_a_new_record_low_by_far.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/10/california_central_valley_agriculture_drought_and_climate_change_photos.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/us/california-drought-tests-history-of-endless-growth.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=a-lede-package-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

I'd say they're not the only ones, either. Not sure how permies can/should wade into this question, but the problem is certainly big enough to benefit from any/all help.

The defining characteristic of the issue looks to be the SIZE of the problem and permie efforts and experience to date looks to be almost entirely small farm family-centric. So there may not be any direct application of permie methods which can make a difference to the full scale problem. But this potentially immediate and massive climate change will certainly impact everybody growing food on the west coast regardless of the size of your system. And this will spawn a lot of scrambling and thinking of ways to get food produced sustainably (not for any PC reason but simply to make money off existing private resource - land). Which it's clearly not right now (sustainable). Doubtless the first moves will be industrial agriculture grabbing for _all_ available water and zero tolerance enforcement of water laws by the western states.

I've heard nothing in the news I listen to in Chicago (NPR) but it seems like this could get pretty big nationwide in a few short years.

Rufus
 
Sheri Menelli
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I'm all for discussing the California water drought problem.

Down here in San DIego County the public is getting a lot of mixed messages. We've been told there is a drought for a few years yet the government until now doesn't act like it is
really urgent so I think most people here forget about it and don't think of it as a problem.

I live in a subdivision where some neighbors use an INCREDIBLE amount of water for lawns an non-edibles. Water is running down the sidewalk and into the storm drains. Yet, I've never seen
any type of enforcement.

I don't know why the water district doesn't start working with the top 20% offenders who are not growing food.

I wish the state would sponsor someone like Brad Landcaster to spend a few months traveling the state and speaking to local towns and on TV, newspapers. Maybe there is
someone else like him but I'm not aware of them.

Sheri
 
Rufus Laggren
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government until now doesn't act like it is
really urgent


I think most officials don't lead so much as follow the least path. Speaking publicly about problems, how people are causing them and how we need to stop it and what it will cost... A guy could lose the next election! But that's as much reflection on the electorate as officials. Cooperative head in sand. Gerry Brown actually seems like one of the better ones.

> enforcement...

See above.

> speaking to local towns...

That sounds like something that would help. It's pretty simplistic but a whole lot of people just really want to be told, over and over again, what they should do.


Rufus



Rufus
 
Dave Burton
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Rufus Laggren wrote:
I think most officials don't lead so much as follow the least path. Speaking publicly about problems, how people are causing them and how we need to stop it and what it will cost... A guy could lose the next election!


All the more reason not to run for election and face the problem directly and reverse the drought. We know what techniques are necessary to solve the problems. They just need to be done.

Rufus Laggren wrote:
That sounds like something that would help. It's pretty simplistic but a whole lot of people just really want to be told, over and over again, what they should do.


If people want to be told what to do, then tell them what to do.
 
Sheri Menelli
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So, let's spell it out. If we could tell people what to do in California, what would that be?

I wrote Governor Jerry Brown a few days ago. A few of the things I recommended is that they reimburse for gutters (Most of us with houses that are 15 years old do not have them). Harder to collect rainwater when
you don't even have a gutter.

I also recommended that he reimburse people and encourage them to put in grey water systems.

I think stories help. Knowing what Brad Lancaster did in Tucson was inspiring.

What would your recommendations be or what would you tell people if you were on TV?

SHeri
 
Honor Bateman
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Location: East Bay, California USDA zone 9
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A very simple first step: get more farmers using drip irrigation. I'd like to see some state-level tax breaks for farmers who update their irrigation systems.

 
Serge Leblanc
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This is a large scale issue, I don't pretend to understand it completely.

What seems odd to me...
In the news I noticed;
1. Farms with dry, dead crops had monoculture with zero ground cover, just dead dirt. Wouldn't some simple mulch or ground cover plants help conserve whatever moisture can be found?
I'm sure some are doing that already

2. Are they really replacing grass with rock landscaping ? State paid?
Wouldn't dead sod protect the soil better than rock landscaping?

Whenever I hear of these California issues I can't help but think of this story;

http://youtu.be/v_7yEPNUXsU
 
Danielle Diver
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ive been thinking about this too and glad to see a thread dedicated to the issue, if our ideas cant help california now, it can at least inspire conversation to help other states, places, and maybe some of us can be the pioneers who bring new ideas to a state/federal level! ok, enough for wishful thinking...

i dont have concrete ideas to offer, but from an organizing standpoint, its clear there are many many factors stacked in different levels that contribute to this situation and all need to be dealt with in different fashions. rainwater catchment systems and vegetarian diets wont save the planet, but since its sort of State of Emergency out there, rainwater systems and homegrown food WILL help perserve someones livelihood and help prevent them from needing to buy Nestle Waterbottles (dont get me started on THAT topic). But equal if not more important, we need legislators who will look at this from a wholistic standpoint and take State and Federal responsibility as well as giving the grunt of the work to the homeowner. In Cali's case, changes should be seen on several , or all, levels:

State (change farming methods, fracking, blahblah)
County
Neighborhood (use empty spaces to grow food and harvest water)
Home (rainwater, greywater, planterboxes)

each of these has a wide range of possible solutions that can help.

Lets also not forget that fracking uses an enormous amount of drinking water. enviornmentally unsound on so many levels. Jerry Brown has already issued a statement that discontinuing fracking 'wouldnt help' so if times are tough and he's asking people to not water their lawns but he gives the go ahead for fracking, well, then looks like he's seriously missing the big picture.

so, in conclusion. i support a COUP. Control Opererated and Understood by Permies.
 
Sheri Menelli
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Danielle,

I didn't know that - fracking uses drinking water and that Jerry Brown is ok with it. That would be a good place to start

It is a bit sad and scary to be in the middle of this - I'm in north San Diego County. but it may be positive at the same time.

First, I know that we export a lot of food to the rest of the US. I believe the food prices will skyrocket.

Skyrocketing food prices will lead to a lot of people growing their own. When people grow there own, they start caring more about
pollution, water, organic, etc. (At least I started too)

It may also get more people into collecting rainwater, greywater systems, etc

I wish I had years of experience and knowledge about rainwater harvesting and the water situation. I'd be on every news show talking about
it. It is so easy to get on TV if you are good at speaking. I've been on many times in the past for another subject.

If any of you are in california and are good at discussing water solutions, I'm happy to show you how to get on TV

Sheri

 
Dave Burton
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I do not know what I would do if I could say anything on TV. I see it as more useful to have projects and people on the ground than to be on TV for a day or two. It is harder to avoid things when they are right in someone's neighborhood.

Maybe having a permaculture design course could be taught over TV if someone were interested in doing that?

One thing that we're covering in AP Gov. right now is the Bureaucracy and how it is essentially the fourth body of government. I think it would be more effective to straight up design and implement a permaculture design project at a person's home and get the HOAs and city bureaucracy's feathers ruffled. Then when they come to inspect your property, you can explain the entire system to them and change their minds. If that doesn't work, public support could leveraged by taking the stand that you have the right to grow your own food and take the issue to court.
 
Danielle Diver
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I have worked a lot in community organizing, beginning with a situation similar to what we see on this thread. it starts as an open question (what do we do about cali?) and it turns into a powerhouse of very real Do-able ideas. i have learned a lot along the way, and if i could wish for anything to come of this thread, its to see someone pop off the internet and go out and do something in real life! (unfortunalty i dont live in the US and no where near cali, otherwise id be the first to initiate a very real face to face meeting)

but, jumping from your thoughts, dave, and using sheri's idea to get on TV, what i noticed is that many people want to participate, but they dont want to be the organizer. Just like many people want to be a volunteer, but not as many want to be on live camera and be 'the one' to represent the flock. first off, figure out who you are in a group dynamic and roll with it.

if in fact you are a leader, organizer, articulate human being with energy to move forward, i highly suggest putting together a sort of 'earth day'-ish event of all the possibilities that could exist that speak to this general problem. call it a Permaculture Conference, call it a Catch the Waves, Water Savings in California Conference, call it whatever who cares, but it is actually very easy (although it takes work!) to organize a gathering, conference, expo, festival, etc. and , from my experience, it is INVALUABLE. why? because instead of being parental, and telling people what they 'should be doing' instead you are inviting them to figure out how to do it themselves. and isnt that was permaculture is all about?

the gist is this:

-get a bunch of people in the same room that have the same basic worry and/or vision and/or questions (make it FREE as to include everyone)
-get some speakers, vendors, professionals, artists, folks, etc who are already active in various fields to come and initiate and guide the conversation
-create an open space for whatever might happen
-be ready to move forward with the energy created.
-use TV, social media, and press releases to broadcast the event, thereby validating the NEED for statewide changes (tv makes things seem more real than real life sometimes huh?)

so , in essence my suggestion to the California Problem is to create a real live permies.com-forum-site-style conference, with all the same 'rooms' you see here, but in real life, in real california. put people and ideas face to face and let the work guide itself. what they probably need is less suggestion from the outside (like bored housemoms in france giving advice to very thirsty californians, wine? anyone?) ... and more neighbor to neighbor talking, contact, energy building, helping, sharing, creating, growing ...

i have a few friends in cali and i have tried to initiate this same conversation with them. the end result is bascially the same 'yea it sucks out here, everyone is scared, but no one makes any real life changes, we dont know what to do.' i know they would GO to a conference, but i dont think they want to be the one to organize it.

so to me it sounds like they need guidance, but more than just another shift in gov't, guidance is best achieved at a face to face human level, but it takes people with knowhow (ahem PERMIES cough ) to be the one to initiate the conversation.

good luck! let me know when you schedule the conference and ill book my ticket! zip zooom!

ps, if there is a permacali resident out there that would want some ideas about how to organize a gathering, im totally open to a private convo to help get you started.

 
John Wolfram
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I'm not sure I would see this simply as a California problem, but also as a ridiculously good opportunity for water rich states. Abundant access to cheap water has resulted in cheap vegetables filling our grocery stores, but if prices rise due to a lack of water in California then it will become more economically viable to grow lettuce elsewhere. The Midwest has huge amounts of water, but building large-scale season extending structures is difficult with California vegetables keeping prices low. If the California drought continues, I can imagine a time where New York City eats lettuce grown east of the Mississippi for 9 months out of the year.
 
Peter Ellis
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Dave Burton wrote:I do not know what I would do if I could say anything on TV. I see it as more useful to have projects and people on the ground than to be on TV for a day or two. It is harder to avoid things when they are right in someone's neighborhood.

Maybe having a permaculture design course could be taught over TV if someone were interested in doing that?

One thing that we're covering in AP Gov. right now is the Bureaucracy and how it is essentially the fourth body of government. I think it would be more effective to straight up design and implement a permaculture design project at a person's home and get the HOAs and city bureaucracy's feathers ruffled. Then when they come to inspect your property, you can explain the entire system to them and change their minds. If that doesn't work, public support could leveraged by taking the stand that you have the right to grow your own food and take the issue to court.


Dave, getting on TV for two minutes, repeated 6 times, will reach more people in those showings and for the expense of perhaps half an hour of your time, than your installation will reach in its entire existence. That is the benefit of getting a message out on TV.

Shifting bureaucracy works best when there are Lots of people in their constituency that are moving in a direction that doesn't line up with the bureaucracy. If you are a lone variant from their norm, they can and will step on you pretty hard - you will not have much success in educating that code enforcement officer that came out to look at your "project" because your neighbor called in a complaint. Now, if you get your neighborhood on board with a project that goes outside the "code" and you all start working on it together and no one goes calling in the authorities, then you wind up with your neighborhood being the core of a shift in the direction of the community and the bureaucrats wind up going with that flow.

And again, TV exposure can help get a bunch of people on board with the idea and they help shift the bureaucrats.

Also, when John Q Public attempts to "educate" a bureaucrat? They do not generally accept that anyone without what they consider the appropriate credentials has anything to teach them.

 
Sheri Menelli
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I have a lot of experience with getting on TV to spread a message.

I agree with both of you about whether or not it would work. If not done properly, no one will care or really hear the message.

Being preachy does not work. Telling people. We are in a drought. Please shut off water when you aren't using it, take shorter showers, etc is just useless info! It would
bore me as well.

What is very effective is being entertaining and telling it with a story. For example, Brad Landcaster tells plenty of inspiring stories in his books. I thought when I first picked
up his books that it would be boring but it was far from boring. It was really inspiration when he gives out statistics about how little water he uses, how many trees they
planted on the street, how much the flooding stopped, how he and the neighbors started getting along better and knowing each other, etc.

We can't even imagine what is possible until someone shows us (the general public, I mean). Most of us have grown up this way with water so it is so normal that
we don't think to go pee outside. We only think of peeing and flushing every time..

Know of anyone in California who has gone to the extremes that Brad Landcaster has in Tucson? If so, that would be the person to get on the news.

I still have a ways to go. I'm now saving for gutters so I can stop more of the water from running away down to the storm drains.

Sheri
 
Peter Ellis
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Serge Leblanc wrote:This is a large scale issue, I don't pretend to understand it completely.

What seems odd to me...
In the news I noticed;
1. Farms with dry, dead crops had monoculture with zero ground cover, just dead dirt. Wouldn't some simple mulch or ground cover plants help conserve whatever moisture can be found?
I'm sure some are doing that already

2. Are they really replacing grass with rock landscaping ? State paid?
Wouldn't dead sod protect the soil better than rock landscaping?

Whenever I hear of these California issues I can't help but think of this story;

http://youtu.be/v_7yEPNUXsU


While people around here would say get something covering that ground, lots of other people would tell you that plants would pull water out and make the land drier still. Can be hard to get people to accept knowledge that does not match their knowledge.

The rock replacing grass - is better than dead sod on a number of levels (somewhat dependent n how they are doing the rock landscaping) . Dead sod is going to sheet water off and not infiltrate anything. Rock formations can create much better infiltration, as the rainwater is tumbled around passing by the rocks, slowing it down and giving it a chance to soak into the soil below. Also, in parts of California, fog can be a major source of water and a pile of rocks can serve to capture water from the fog in ways that dead sod simply cannot do.
And of course, you don't need to water the rocks, while that sod lawn - you want to keep it green and living, which means watering it, and .. yeah, you need to replace the grass with rock, to get off the watering bandwagon.
 
Jd Gonzalez
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I think of this:




and this:

 
Aaron Goodwin
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Location: Apple Valley, CA
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Peter Ellis wrote:
... The rock replacing grass - is better than dead sod on a number of levels (somewhat dependent n how they are doing the rock landscaping) . Dead sod is going to sheet water off and not infiltrate anything. Rock formations can create much better infiltration, as the rainwater is tumbled around passing by the rocks, slowing it down and giving it a chance to soak into the soil below. Also, in parts of California, fog can be a major source of water and a pile of rocks can serve to capture water from the fog in ways that dead sod simply cannot do. ...


Sadly, most of the rock being laid down is on top of thick black plastic, so most of the water either runs off into the streets or evaporates. I don't think it's a great solution.
 
Sheri Menelli
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Really good point about the black plastic. Another thing to remember to educate others about.

I've got to figure out better ways to harvest fog. We get quite a bit some mornings at my house in Carlsbad, California.

I was at a neighbors house a few months ago and noticed that her wooden (and painted) structure that was over her patio set was dripping water
like crazy when it was foggy. I should find a good way of collecting it on my patio and roof. I don't want to collect any of it near the plants because
they are probably more efficient at taking it in anyway.

Sheri
 
Rufus Laggren
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> black plastic...

wow. just wow.

I'm heading back to CA in a couple months and I've marked this thread for reference when I get there. Organizing is not my line and people use this word tact... gotta look that up. .. but there is certainly a big enough need w/room for all. You guys are a definitely inspirational.


Rufus
 
Deb Rebel
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I have a friend in the Bay Area and she has told me the water clampdowns for the last few years... first thing I asked her was could she put in a composting toilet? She said it wasn't allowed and a variance of that nature would take 'serious court' (aka expensive lawyer and fighting for a few years and going up a few levels of the court system to possibly get it approved). She would be able to get xeriscaping approval, difficult but gettable, first.

I used to live in a Front Range Rocky Mountain City that MANDATED Kentucky Bluegrass in almost all the housing developments. One of the thirstiest grasses there is, and with the soil there you had to do all sorts of stuff like water crystals to have a CHANCE of affording your water bill. Then they had rationing... in high desert.

We need to have better resource management from the start.

Bay area was going to put in a desalinization plant, for 10% of their needs, and the discharge was going to end up floating through the kelp beds. Um, I don't even know what the status of that one is or if they are going to be able to build it. Too little to begin with and wrong placement to boot.

Enough. Water management has to be serious and a concerted effort. Citrus and almond tree orchards got bulldozed the last few years there. Those take 5-10 years to get the trees established enough to produce. If they're ripping the trees out now, that ripple will be there for decades.

We need more permaculture for the urbanites. As well as some better and sounder management of the resources.
 
Leslie Zingarelli
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Location: Northern CA Coastal zone 10/a/b
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"The drought, now officially in its fourth year, prompted Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last week to order a 25 percent reduction in water consumption. The order does not apply to the agriculture industry, which consumes nearly 80 percent of the state's water." I live in the Bay Area, even so, it feels like "everyone's drought". In accordance with Paul's approach, I've ignored the rants, and moved on to some (albeit small-scale) concrete solutions. Researching the lifestyles of those living under permanent water restriction, I have been for the last few years, observing my own water habits to inventory consumption. India uses a bucket-bath technique, and I have implemented a variation thereof: an old yoga mat is folded under a galvanized tub, placed inside my shower, to catch my bathing water. I'm plenty clean, and keep the rinse water, using a hand-operated pump-siphon to move the excess to a nearby bucket. I use some to flush my toilet, once or twice a day, some to pre-soak my laundry, the rest to water the plants on my balcony. I'm just an apartment dweller, but have learned how incredibly wasteful my over-consumption was, now that I don't even HAVE enough secondary uses for all the excess. Consumption overall is down significantly (at home) to 5 gallons, or less, daily. However, it does not count what I use at work. Or when I use the common laundry facility, once every 2 weeks. (Of coarse, some may still consider the topic meaningless drivel.)
 
Peter Ellis
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Plastic under the rocks is a) Stupid and b) not part of the original data provided. My comments stand with regard to the information given. Get the damn plastic out, it can only cause problems there - unless there is a subsequent catch system capturing it for use that has also been left out ...
 
Deb Rebel
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Go Leslie go.

I would just like to reuse my water more than once if I can. My houseplants certainly get watered with the corner pail catching in my shower, but. I would like really to know if I could run my greywater through my RGGS as it would be really easy to put one on the sunny side of my house and just do a shunt to a lift outside, let the lemna munch on it, then send it to the garden stuff. So my original need other than the rant against urbans that have laws against collecting water or putting in water conservation items that would make a difference... is. Is there a way that I can send my laundry, shower, and dish water to be used for watering food I will eat?
 
elle sagenev
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California seems to have approached this whole thing a big oddly. Now, my state isn't bright by any means but more years than not there are yard watering restrictions. CA doesn't seem to have any idea what they should be doing.
 
elle sagenev
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But look, CA is getting a new water park!!!

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/04/02/dublin-residents-question-timing-of-building-new-water-park/
 
tiffany thrasher
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hi, first off, i'm new here. hello! anyways, me and my dude are moving back to CA (central valley, merced) this summer, from VA, which is pretty much the exact opposite climate, lol.

i'm planning on planting tons of food at whatever house we move to, but since we will be renting, im not sure how to set up a greywater system..

leslie has the awesome idea to catch all the shower water, but i'd love to be able to divert all the water (dishes/laundry etc.. ) in an easy way..

i really dont think whoever we are renting from is going to be cool with me replacing pipes to divert water flow, so i guess im stuck with having buckets/tubs etc.. to catch the water from the sink/shower and not being able to divert the laundry water..

any ideas would be awesome..
 
tiffany thrasher
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also, i dont know why people use that horrible black plastic under their "landscaping" when they can just use cardboard, which is free and plentiful. and ABSORBS WATER. so stupid.
 
tiffany thrasher
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another thing that i think about alot, since most of my friends and family still live in CA (we are originally from LA), is that if they are going to cut 25% of water usage to residents, but not ag, there should be water credits or something depending on how much water your lifestyle uses.

like, we are vegan, and have been for almost 2 decades, so our diet uses WAY less water than someone with a standard american diet, and we've been doing it a long time.

also, if the water you do use is being used for growing food, instead of a stupid useless lawn, you should get credit for that too..

these are just some things i think about..
 
Sheri Menelli
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tiffany thrasher wrote:hi, first off, i'm new here. hello! anyways, me and my dude are moving back to CA (central valley, merced) this summer, from VA, which is pretty much the exact opposite climate, lol.

i'm planning on planting tons of food at whatever house we move to, but since we will be renting, im not sure how to set up a greywater system..

leslie has the awesome idea to catch all the shower water, but i'd love to be able to divert all the water (dishes/laundry etc.. ) in an easy way..

i really dont think whoever we are renting from is going to be cool with me replacing pipes to divert water flow, so i guess im stuck with having buckets/tubs etc.. to catch the water from the sink/shower and not being able to divert the laundry water..

any ideas would be awesome..


I've begun to realize that the houses in California are really not designed to capture and reuse the water from dishes/laundry/showers, etc.

I'm starting to think the best way is outside if the climate allows it. I'm trying to set up a place to wash dishes outside or wash my hands. With the amount of water I use just for that, I should be able to water a lot of plants

(I'm not going to wash any dishes that had meat or dairy on them as I know that will cause some issues but I could wash those inside and rinse them outside. Anyone know what kind of soap wash to use that won't hurt my plants?

If I can set up a private enough area in my yard, I'm also thinking of putting in a shower.

I'm peeing in a bucket, diluting it with water and using it on my fruit trees. I'm not sure I'll get buy in from anyone else in my family to do that.

Also working on the laundry water. I have some pipes laid outside. I just need some money to buy the parts and some help because I'm so not mechanical!



 
Sheri Menelli
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Like I said before - the public is getting a lot of mixed messages about the water situation.
 
Sheri Menelli
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elle sagenev wrote:California seems to have approached this whole thing a big oddly. Now, my state isn't bright by any means but more years than not there are yard watering restrictions. CA doesn't seem to have any idea what they should be doing.


I totally agree. When I first moved here in the late 90s they did. Now we are just getting really weird mixed messages from the state. I can't figure out why

Regardless, it is a good reminder that we shouln't rely on government. The best thing for me to do is to do my best with my own water usage and to teach as many others as I can - starting in my own subdivision

I just have to do a good job of figuring out how!

 
Aaron Goodwin
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This is some really good discussion!

One of the biggest difficulties with California, in general as well as with this specific issue, is that it's a very large state covering very different areas. The northern part of the state receives substantially more rain than the southern; and the weather is much more temperate on it's west side than it's east side (this is what happens when you have a mountain range running through the middle of a coastal state. There's a real sense for Northern residents that Southern California is steeling their water and wasting it, but at the same time most of the food is grown in Southern California so it's just all a recipe for catastrophe.

Also, on the black plastic—a major reason it's used (at least in the desert regions I'm more familiar with) is that the small amount of shade, cover, and retained moisture offered by rocks creates a boon for weeds. Since most people don't have the importance of soil on their radar, and most aren't looking to create more productive environments for food, they just throw down the plastic and say to hell with it. It's really sad.

In my neck of the woods you used to see a lot more front yards that hard dirt and shrubs and more native plants, but not anymore. Having dirt anywhere is viewed by people, as well as municipalities, as a poorly maintained yard and you'll get cited for it.
 
Aaron Goodwin
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I think the most important change we need is for better-informed local governments. They stand a much better chance of actually incentivizing water-wise choices from the populace. In many places it's downright illegal to do most of what we've discussed. There are tons of codes having to do with waste water, grey water, and other things seen as a public nuisance, but which are actually beneficial.
 
Sheri Menelli
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Aaron Goodwin wrote:This is some really good discussion!

One of the biggest difficulties with California, in general as well as with this specific issue, is that it's a very large state covering very different areas. The northern part of the state receives substantially more rain than the southern; and the weather is much more temperate on it's west side than it's east side (this is what happens when you have a mountain range running through the middle of a coastal state. There's a real sense for Northern residents that Southern California is steeling their water and wasting it, but at the same time most of the food is grown in Southern California so it's just all a recipe for catastrophe.

Also, on the black plastic—a major reason it's used (at least in the desert regions I'm more familiar with) is that the small amount of shade, cover, and retained moisture offered by rocks creates a boon for weeds. Since most people don't have the importance of soil on their radar, and most aren't looking to create more productive environments for food, they just throw down the plastic and say to hell with it. It's really sad.

In my neck of the woods you used to see a lot more front yards that hard dirt and shrubs and more native plants, but not anymore. Having dirt anywhere is viewed by people, as well as municipalities, as a poorly maintained yard and you'll get cited for it.



I think another reason there is such a division among the northern and southern regions of California is that north has a lot more lakes, streams, ponds, etc. When they start to dry up, you notice it. Down here the only way most of the public knows there is a drought is because they said so on TV. So, it largely goes ignored. Since the state government seems so lax about restrictions. It makes us think that it really can't be that serious (yes, I know better but most people down here don't)
 
Sheri Menelli
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Aaron Goodwin wrote:I think the most important change we need is for better-informed local governments. They stand a much better chance of actually incentivizing water-wise choices from the populace. In many places it's downright illegal to do most of what we've discussed. There are tons of codes having to do with waste water, grey water, and other things seen as a public nuisance, but which are actually beneficial.


Well, I see another change that needs to be made - Home Owners Associations. There are By-Laws in place that are nearly impossible to change. A few have tried to make changes for things that almost everyone would want but most of the time that requires that you have a certain percentage (I think it was 70%) of the members vote yes for it. With so many people not interested in their local HOA, this is almost impossible.

6-9 months ago Gerry Brown finally overruled the HOA right to prevent people from tearing out their grass. Before that I would have been fined big time if I had torn out most of my grass. They will fine you until you finally comply. Since that change preventing the HOAs from fining us, I've seen a dozen or more homes in my subdivision change their front yards to be drought tolerant.

Once a few neighbors did it, others started. It was if they needed to see social proof that it was ok not to have grass.

 
Aaron Goodwin
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Sheri Menelli wrote:


I think another reason there is such a division among the northern and southern regions of California is that north has a lot more lakes, streams, ponds, etc. When they start to dry up, you notice it. Down here the only way most of the public knows there is a drought is because they said so on TV.


Good point! To us in the Mojave it's ALWAYS drought.
 
Jan Cooper
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COMPOSTING TOILETS-
Composting toilets are now legal in CA. Here is an article about an installation-http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_26063899/composting-toilets-save-water-spark-conversations
Here's where a person can find the building codes to get it done legally--

California Building Standards Commission (Phone: 916-263-0916)
California Department of Housing and Community Development (Phone: 916-445-9471)
We need rebates for composting toilets.

Israel farms a desert. We need the CA universities to go and take their knowledge to our farmers. We need tax incentives and low cost loans to make it happen.

We need a requirement that no one can water a lawn unless it comes from a cistern. Period make it brown. no exceptions. Let the golf courses change sections of lawn to artificial turf.
Artificial can look so completely real the only way you can tell the difference is that no lawn is that perfect. See if the golfers can tell the difference.

We also need rebates for cisterns. More cisterns means less using of piped water to water landscapes.

I live in CA and I deeply resent that I killed my lawn, take bucket showers, flush brown, do all the saving tips, yet I am surrounded all around are green lawns, esp. in the wealthy areas. The wealthy don't stop watering
if the prices go up, while the middle class may cease lawn watering because they can't afford it. http://news.yahoo.com/wealth-is-most-reliable-predictor-of-water-use-in-los-angeles--study-184853474.html
Californians are not willing to lose the lawn.
 
Deb Rebel
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I just asked my SF bay friend... say in 2013 she used 3000 gallons a month and they hit her with 25% reduction. That meant she had to curb it to 2250 gallons in 2014. In 2015 she is being hit again with a 25% reduction so now she has to make 1475 gallons. I will let her know about the legal stuff about composting toilets. (note she wasn't using that much but still, it's cut on cut on cut...)

If you do a cutdown, at what point do they have to stop? She couldn't answer on how low can they make you go and at what point it becomes ridiculous, as well. And there are many 'wasters' out there yet...

I want to reuse my water if I can because it is a finite resource but. We're going to need more than composting toilets and recycling greywater.
 
Jan Cooper
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I just sent emailed sections of my postings to Gov. Jerry Brown and also called his office. At least maybe, if enough people call, it might make him think.
 
Sheri Menelli
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Jan, thanks for posting on the composting toilets. I had no ideal it was legal here. Yahoo!!!

I'm not sure that Californians are not willing to lose the lawn. I think that you could easily get 30% to do so if they saw it was ok to do so - if they saw their neighbors doing it and now that the HOA can't fine us
for having brown grass or no grass.

I think that a lot of people just aren't sure how to change it. Many are tired of hiring landscape gardeners to mow every week because of the noise and the expense. We just need more examples - that made all the difference
in my subdivision. And the incentives from California helped because even if you do it yourself it is expensive to convert to drip and buy a lot of plants.

 
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