California calls for more local water conservation

By Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press | March 29, 2022 | The Sacramento Bee

Californians will be asked to further cut back on their water use, state officials said Monday as they warned water scarcity will shape the future of the drought-stricken state. But those cut backs would come from cities and local water districts, not the state, with members of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration saying allowing local retailers to set conservation needs is the best approach in a state of nearly 40 million people where water needs vary.

Read more at: https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article259883770.html#storylink=cpy

As drought deepens, Californians are saving less water

By Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times | March 15, 2022 | The Sacramento Bee

LOS ANGELES — California will end winter in a perilous position as record-shattering dryness converges with lagging water conservation efforts in nearly every part of the state, officials said Tuesday. After months of cutting back, new data from the State Water Resources Control Board show that rather than conserving water, Californians increased urban water use 2.6% in January, compared to the same month in 2020 — the baseline year against which current savings are measured.

Read more at: https://www.sacbee.com/news/environment/article259443499.html#storylink=cpy

ECOS letter on Water Agencies’ Participation in Sacramento Area Turf Replacement Study

On February 14, 2022, the Environmental Council of Sacramento submitted a letter to Sacramento Area Water Agencies regarding their participation in a Sacramento Area Turf Replacement Study. Below is the content of the letter.

To: Sacramento Area RWA Water Agencies

The Environmental Council of Sacramento’s Water Committee has begun a project to calculate the potential water savings from conversion of ornamental grasses (turf) to drought-tolerant landscaping in the American River water purveyor area (i.e. Regional Water Authority member agencies). We are interested in your input and participation in this study. This letter describes the study plan. For more information or to participate, please contact Katrina Harrison, PE, ECOS Water Committee member and Project Manager, at kandchf[at]gmail[dot]com or (408) 644-9108.

The Water Committee has met with representatives of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to share methodologies and inquire about data sources. DWR staff has been helpful but has suggested relying on publicly available datasets. Therefore, Water Committee plans to calculate the area of current ornamental grasses using 2019 or 2020 publicly available fine scale (~1 foot pixel size wherever possible) aerial and infrared imagery. Aerial images include National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP), Bing imagery, Planet, and NearMap.

This imagery dataset will be analyzed using the machine learning, or neural net, algorithms of the software program eCognition to determine turf grass area. Land classifications will be digitized in several sample areas, and the computer model will be trained using those areas including calculating the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as well as a Tree Grass Difference Index. The aerial imagery processing will be validated manually to develop a calculation of the accuracy and estimated error bounds of the analysis.

Following calculation of the area of turf grass, ECOS Water Committee members plan to use California Native Plant Society information on the evapotranspiration and density of different plant palettes – lawn versus drought-tolerant landscaping – to determine the difference in water use. This difference will be multiplied by the area to determine potential water savings.

We appreciate any insight or methodology suggestions you may have. We would like to share our draft results with study participants and will make the final product available to the Water Forum for its consideration in the ongoing Water Forum 2 discussions. If you have an interest in participating, please contact Katrina Harrison at kandchf[at]gmail[dot]com or Ted Rauh at tnrauh[at]att[dot]net. We would appreciate hearing from you before the end of February so that your input can be included in the study.

Click here to view a PDF of the letter.

If the Sierra snowpack vanishes as feared, California will need ideas like this for water

By the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board | February 2, 2022 | The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento — which once only had to worry about seasonal floods — now worries each year about delivering water to its citizens in a hotter and drier California. But there is a way for Sacramento to capture rain and snow, and for the broader region to keep surface reservoirs like Folsom and Oroville lakes nearly full. This same technique could help Sacramento capture enough water to share with neighboring areas in dry years, as well as to store it when we need it most.

Read more at: https://www.sacbee.com/article257812568.html#storylink=cpy


Photo Copyright 2021, Scolopendra Empire Inc.

An ode to our native oaks

By Stephanie Robinson | October 11, 2021 | Sacramento Tree Foundation

Out of all the wonderful trees that make up our urban forest in Sacramento, native oaks hold a special place in our hearts. Ask any staff member what their favorite tree is, and chances are many will mention the valley oak. Native plants are trending, and for good reason – they are so important to our natural ecosystems. But native trees, and native oaks in particular, carry the biggest impact.

This Oaktober, we’re celebrating the oaks that are native to the Sacramento region – the valley oak (Quercus lobata), blue oak (Quercus douglasii), and interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni). These majestic trees provide more benefits than any other tree that grows locally. Thanks to donors and volunteers like you, every year we plant 3,200 native trees throughout the region, both in reforestation sites and at places like homes, parks, and schools.

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tall trees

“Stress Your Lawn, Save Your Trees,” Local Water Providers Urge

October 6, 2021

CITRUS HEIGHTS—Local water providers have launched a new campaign asking residents to reduce lawn watering while continuing to water trees.
The advertising, which appears on billboards throughout the Sacramento region, on the radio and online, is focused on educating the public that lawns can handle less water but that drought‐stressed trees can be lost forever.
“We know that reducing lawn watering is the fastest way to cutting overall water use during a drought and to achieving the 15 percent reduction requested by Gov. Newsom,” said Amy Talbot, Water Efficiency Program Manager for the Regional Water Authority (RWA), which represents 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the Sacramento region. “But, reductions shouldn’t come at the expense of trees—that’s a major lesson we learned during the last drought.”

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