California is facing one of the worst drought seasons in recorded history, and with climate change and all of our thirsty lawns, it is only going to get worse. On January 17th, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency for the entire state, and requested that everyone voluntarily reduce their water consumption by 20 percent. Last year was the driest year ever recorded for the San Diego area, and 2014 is looking to follow this record, in spite of our recent rain storm.
Here in Pala, we are lucky enough to get our drinking water from a large aquifer (groundwater) underneath our feet, instead of importing the water from northern California or the Colorado River. However, our aquifer is reliant on water flowing in the San Luis Rey River and storm water runoff to replenish this water source. This means that Pala has a cleaner water source, and we are independent from some of the cut-backs that imported water sources will face. It also means that we are very susceptible to future impacts from climate change, as well as over-pumping of that groundwater from both on and off reservation sources.
The Pala Tribe is trying to do their part to conserve this vital resource, including recycling our treated wastewater and allowing it to replenish our groundwater source and removing some of the water-heavy grass lawns and planting beautiful native, low-water use gardens in tribal areas (ie: Pala Administration, Blacktooth House, Calac Adobe). The Pala Environmental Department is working on developing a native, low-water use garden next to the Pala Transfer Station, which will be open to the community and serve as an example of the types of plants that would be appropriate to plant in our arid region.
Here are some water conservation tips that you can practice at home:
- Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth
- Make sure you have a full dishwasher/laundry load before running it
- Make sure all of your appliances have the EPA Water Sense Label (low-water use)
- Fix all of your leaky faucets
- Don’t hose off your sidewalks & driveways – use a broom instead
- Only water your lawn early in the morning, and let it run for shorter intervals
- Use drip-irrigation, or other water efficient irrigation
- Never let water run-off of your lawn/garden….if it does, you are overwatering your plants
- Remove grass (uses a TON of water) & plant native, low-water use plants
- If you do want grass, plant: Buffalo grass, Hybrid bermuda grass, Zoysia grass
- Use mulch – this helps your garden retain water, so you can water less
- Install a rain barrel to help water your plants
Contact the Pala Environmental Department if you would like to know more about water conservation.