Watered-down policies a plus in drought fight

Residents of Monterey County were issued a critical drought notice Aug. 14 from California American Water prohibiting various water-use activities. This comes after 2013 was reported the driest year in recorded history for many parts of California, causing Gov. Jerry Brown to announce a statewide drought emergency on Jan. 17.

Closer to home, Carmel Unified and Carmel High have addressed the drought in a manner that reflects its historically environmentally friendly policies.

Drought-resistant plants, such as these bordering the CHS amphitheater, are one way to combat the rain shortage.

Drought-resistant plants, such as these bordering the CHS amphitheater, are one way to combat the rain shortage.

While also providing sports fans with a modern venue, CUSD and Kent Construction actually designed a stadium that saves water. Not only does the artificial turf field require no watering, but it also cuts watering costs for other sporting fields in the district.

In direct response to the drought, CUSD changed irrigation practices for the pothole-ridden soccer and lacrosse fields at Carmel Valley High School by only watering the fields during sports seasons, says Dan Paul, operations manager of maintenance and transportation for CUSD. The grass was allowed to die after the field hockey season and irrigation was turned on two weeks before the soccer season.

“Completion of the new artificial turf field at Carmel High may allow us to stop those fields entirely,” Paul says.

AP Environmental Science teacher Brian Granbery mentions that in consideration of water conservation, drought- resistant plants were added to the hillside during the construction of the new science buildings.

Paul also notes that CUSD has changed its irrigation schedule for grass areas and is working with CalAm to change out old sprinklers with more economical models.

“We are changing out all fixtures (faucets, shower heads, toilets, etc.) at all sites to high-efficiency models,” Paul claims. “The work should be completed by the end of October.”

Environmental Club co-president Haven Parker states that right now it’s important to send out messages about conserving water by starting with basic actions such as taking shorter showers and turning off the water while brushing teeth.

Other co-president Gina Sakoda extends Parker’s thoughts on preserving water by asserting that cutting a shower from just eight minutes to three can save 25 gallons of water per shower. Sakoda adds that the Environmental Club will be working on projects to increase awareness about the drought.

“We’ve been talking about putting a cistern in to collect rainwater even though there isn’t much rainwater, and there’s been a lot of opposition by admin so that project is kind of at a standstill,” Sakoda says. “We’re gonna find ways to get students more involved at school and at home with parents, in response to this drought.”

Gov. Brown has asked all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent. The California Public Utilities Commission has enforced restrictions such as watering pavement or creating runoff onto non-irrigated areas and using potable water in a fountain or decorative item unless the water is a component of a recirculating system.

Additionally, unless a hose immediately shuts off the flow of water, washing the car at home is no longer an option. Gov. Brown wants citizens to visit a local carwash, where the use of recycled water is an efficient cleaning method during the drought. Not abiding by the new regulations can result in fines of $500 per each day water is used improperly.

Setting a fine example, Monterey County residents and businesses used just over 100 gallons per person per day in July, compared to the average Californian who used 196 gallons of water per day.

Senior environmental scientist for the state water board Max Gomberg claims that Monterey County has some of the lowest per-capita water usage in California.

-Daniel Orlov