Claremont Insider: Water Wise

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Water Wise

Claremont City Manager Jeff Parker's weekly report last Thursday led with a blurb about a turf buyback program offering $3 for every square-foot of yard grass homeowners replace with drought-tolerant landscaping:


Golden State Water Company and Three Valleys Municipal Water District have teamed up to offer cash rebates to Claremont homeowners that remove turf and replace it with water-wise landscaping. The Residential Turf Removal Program rebates $3.00 per square foot for turf removed up to a maximum of $3,000 per residence. Details of the program and an application to participate can be found at:

The City is excited about this program because it should help the community meet its goal of reducing potable water consumed community-wide by 20% by 2012. City Council members have been pushing for a turf buyback program, noting that 70% of water used in Claremont is for outdoor uses and that turf is almost always the most water intensive plant in our yards.

It's great to see the City leading the way when it comes to conservation issues, especially with sustainability having become a civic buzzword. That the City has encouraging residents to be aware of these sorts of environmental issues adds to City Hall's embarrassment over things like leaving the lights burning over unused sports fields.

Claremont's municipal carbon footprint grew a little larger now that it's soccer fields at Padua Park are on line. A reader wrote to say someone forgot to switch off the field lights there last week:
DATE: Sat, September 4, 2010 7:02:01 AM
TO: Claremont Insider
SUBJECT: Re: Claremont Insider

Oh yeah, Friday night you could see the Padua park lights from space. You know the area in north claremont that isn't supposed to have any street lights. They wanted to keep that rural feeling. That is until "they" had yet another plan, uh huh I feel like I'm in the boonies...

We heard separately from another reader that the Padua soccer lights were burning last Thursday night with no one on the fields. How fitting that the project that pushed the city budget millions of dollars into the red, a project touted for its "sustainability," continues to run up a bill for wasted dollars.

We were thinking about those field lights when it occurred to us that the City has added over three acres of turf at Padua Park at precisely the same time they are asking residents to remove the grass in their yards. As City Manager Parker wrote, "City Council members have been pushing for a turf buyback program, noting that 70% of water used in Claremont is for outdoor uses, and turf is almost always the most water intensive plant in our yards."

At around three acres (a conservative estimate), the fields at Padua Park amount to enough grass for 130 homes under the turf buyback program City Manager Parker touted.

The City would argue that the turf planted in Padua Park is a drought-resistant, "water-wise" type, which may be perfectly true. However, several our readers have commented that ever since the park opened, the park's water usage has appeared pretty wasteful, including a substantial leak along one side of the westernmost soccer field. Even on the hottest of days, standing water apparently pooled in the turf there.

We were curious and, nearly five months after the park's opening, we finally dispatched someone to take a look at the situation. There wasn't any standing water, but we did notice some repair work was underway in the spot where the months-old leak was supposed to have been:

Click on Image to Enlarge

Though the turf in problem area had been removed, it looked like the leak hadn't been fixed yet:

Looking around the park, we found other evidence of the City's water management prowess:

Watering Dirt

La Cienega

A River Runs Through It

Mighty Dry Oak