Cooperative Extension San Joaquin County
University of California
Cooperative Extension San Joaquin County

Posts Tagged: water

Grasscycling can help Californians conserve water

An electric mulching mower, which cuts grass clippings into fine pieces and leaves them on the lawn. (Photo: Cheryl Reynolds)
Gov. Jerry Brown asked Californians to cut water use by 20 percent a year ago. Officials at the State Water Resources Board announced in March that water users haven't come close to meeting the conservation goal. To help homeowners save water while maintaining a beautiful lawn, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) horticulture advisors recommend “grasscycling” turf at homes, schools, parks and businesses this spring and summer.

In short, grasscycling involves leaving grass clippings on the lawn, rather than collecting them in a bag and shipping them off to a landfill.

“The clippings sift down to the soil surface and act like a mulch, reducing water evaporation so you can cut back on irrigation,” said Karrie Reid, UC ANR Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture advisor in San Joaquin County. “This is a simple and elegant way to save water that requires very little extra effort.”

If you don't have a mulching mower, Reid says, “It's probably time to replace the mower.” As an alternative, a mulching blade can be attached the bottom of most mowers. The special blade makes a second cut when mowing over grass, cutting grass clippings into finer pieces.

In most California climates, mowing once a week with a mulching mower is sufficient. If grass is growing so quickly a once-per-week mowing cuts off more than one-third of the blade, it's a sign that too much water is being applied.

In addition to reducing water use, grasscycling cuts down on fertilizer needs.

“As the clippings break down, nutrients are returned to the soil,” Reid said. “Most of the fertilizer that is applied to lawns ends up in the leaf blades, so it only makes sense to retain as much of that on the lawn as possible.”

A five-page UC ANR publication on mowing and grasscycling is available for free download from the UC ANR Catalog. The publication includes a table with mower height settings for the most common types of turf grass grown in California.

In addition to working with horticulture professionals, Reid serves as advisor to the coordinator and volunteers of the UC Master Gardener program in San Joaquin County. Master Gardeners are UC ANR volunteers who are trained by UC academics in sustainable landscape, ornamental tree and garden development and maintenance.

More than 6,000 volunteer Master Gardeners form a network to disseminate research-based gardening information across the state, donating upwards of 350,000 hours of time each year.

An initiative to improve California water quality, quantity and security is part of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Posted on Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 11:26 AM
Tags: conservation (8), drought (35), Karrie Reid (3), water (19)

$7.12 billion state water bond to appear on November ballot

The 70-year-old Shasta Dam forms the largest reservoir in California.
The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) is set to appear on the November 2014 ballot. If approved by voters, it would “authorize $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for state water supply infrastructure projects, such as public water system improvements, surface and groundwater storage, drinking water protection, water recycling and advanced water treatment technology, water supply management and conveyance, wastewater treatment, drought relief, emergency water supplies, and ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration.”

Per the full text of the proposition, the distribution of funds would be approximately as follows:

$810 million for expenditures and competitive grants and loans to integrated regional water management plan projects.

$520 million to improve water quality for “beneficial use,” for reducing and preventing drinking water contaminants in disadvantaged communities, and creating the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund.

$725 million for water recycling and advanced water treatment technology projects.

$900 million for competitive grants, and loans for projects to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water.

$1.495 billion for competitive grants for multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects including:

  • Conservancies $327.5M.
  • Wildlife Conservation Board $200M (restoration of flows)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife $285M (out of delta, no mitigation on Bay Delta Conservation Plan)
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife $87.5M (in delta with constraints)
  • State settlement obligations including CVPIA $475M
  • Rivers and creeks $120M

$2.7 billion for water storage projects, dams and reservoirs.

$395 million for statewide flood management projects and activities

To read the full text of the proposition visit Ballotpedia.

Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 3:11 PM
  • Author: Jennifer Rindahl
Tags: Drought (35), Proposition 1 (1), water (19)

How are you conserving water?

People, animals and plants all need water to survive, yet we have less than 1 percent of the earth's water available for our use. And our water supply is diminishing. This year's record California drought conditions mean that now, more than ever, every drop counts.

The average household uses 30 percent of its water outdoors for landscaping and gardening. Inside the home, the majority is used in the bathroom. Just shortening your daily shower by a minute or two can save as much as 700 gallons of water every month!

Pool your knowledge

On May 8, 2014, we're asking you to tell us what you are doing to conserve water. Have you started to take shorter showers? Invested in low-flow faucets and toilets? Let your grass go brown or swapped it for drought-tolerant landscaping? If you're a farmer, do you use new, higher-efficiency irrigation technology?

Maybe you already are conserving water; maybe you aren't. Either way, we want to know about it—and remember, in a survey like this there's no wrong answer. Your answers will help create a clearer picture of what all of us are doing—and can do—to protect our water resources.

Build a more secure future for you and your community in five simple steps:

STEP 1: On May 8, 2014, go online and visit the map at beascientist.ucanr.edu/water. Click on the picture of the map on the right.

STEP 2: Enter your ZIP Code or zoom to your current location on the map.

STEP 3: Click on your location.

STEP 4: Use the online checklist to select all of the ways you are conserving water in your home, garden, landscape, or on your farm.

STEP 5: Attach a photo showing how you're conserving water!

On May 8, 2014, get out there and be a scientist. Tell us where food is grown in your community. Your answers will help build a healthier future for your community, and for the state.

Other ways to join the fun:

  • Are you a teacher? Educator? Parent? Youth group leader? Download our lesson plans and activities from our food activity box. 
  • Pledge a tweet or Facebook status. Join our Thunderclap campaign and donate a tweet or a Facebook status to #BeAScientist on May 8.
  • Join the online conversation by following #BeAScientist on FacebookTwitter and Instagram
  • Learn more about this project by reading our Fact Sheet.

 

Posted on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 9:50 AM
  • Author: Marissa (Palin) Stein
Tags: #BeAScientist (1), conserve (1), drought (35), May 8 (1), water (19)

How are you conserving?

Overhead irrigation can help save water on farms.
People, animals and plants all need water to survive, yet we have less than 1 percent of the earth's water available for our use. And our water supply is diminishing. This year's record California drought conditions mean that now, more than ever, every drop counts.

Californians currently use an average of 196 gallons of water per person per day, including all business operations other than agriculture. The average household uses 30 percent of its water outdoors for landscaping and gardening. Inside the home, the majority is used in the bathroom. Just shortening your daily shower by a minute or two can save as much as 700 gallons of water every month!

Did you know that if everyone in the state reduced her or his water consumption by 10 gallons a month, California would save a total of 4.56 billion gallons every year?

The University of California is pledging to reduce its water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. Now we want to know, how are you conserving?

On May 8, 2014, we're asking you to tell us what you are doing to conserve water.

Have you started to take shorter showers? Invested in low-flow faucets and toilets? Let your grass go brown or swapped it for drought-tolerant landscaping? If you're a farmer, do you use new, higher-efficiency irrigation technology?

Maybe you already are conserving water; maybe you aren't. Either way, we want to know about it — and remember, in a survey like this there's no wrong answer. Your answers will help create a clearer picture of what all of us are doing — and can do — to protect our water resources.

Build a more secure future for you and your community in five simple steps:

STEP 1

On May 8, 2014, go online and visit the map at beascientist.ucanr.edu/water.

STEP 2

Enter your ZIP Code or zoom to your current location on the map.

STEP 3

Click on your location.

STEP 4

Use the online checklist to select all of the ways you are conserving water.

STEP 5

Attach a photo showing how you're conserving water!

Visit beascientist.ucanr.edu to learn more about this project and record your observations.

For an overview, see the video below:

Content of this post by the education team: Steven Worker, Melissa Womack, Marisa Neelon, Karey Winfield-Royas, Pam Kan-Rice and Jennifer Rindahl. Video production by Alberto Hauffen.

Posted on Monday, April 21, 2014 at 1:42 PM
  • Author: Jennifer Rindahl
Tags: beascientist (1), centennial (2), water (19)

Optimizing irrigation may ease groundwater overdraft in Pajaro Valley

Pajaro Valley’s Water Management Agency electoral divisions
In the Pajaro Valley, an agricultural region in Monterey County, residents are being proactive about water conservation policies and seeking ways to save water. 

Groundwater makes up roughly 90 percent of the water delivered by Pajaro Valley’s Water Management Agency (PVWMA). There is a current overdraft of groundwater in the aquifers of this region, which calls for immediate action to protect their water source. Historically, the amount of groundwater in the aquifer was above sea level so the amount of salt water in the freshwater aquifer was kept at bay. Removing too much water from the ground at a faster rate than it is being replenished has caused seawater from the Pacific Ocean to enter the aquifer as the water level tries to even out. This seawater intrusion impairs water quality because saltwater is too saline for both agriculture and human consumption.

PVWMA is implementing seven different projects to control this seawater intrusion. One of these projects is their agricultural conservation program.

Agricultural conservation program

PVWMA asked Samuel Sandoval Solis, Ph.D., UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, to help them with their agricultural conservation program. PVWMA wanted to know the volume water that could be potentially saved and the resulting economic impact of water savings on the valley. 

The key to agricultural water savings is to water a crop to its evapotranspiration (ET) value. The ET value indicates optimum water amounts that should be applied in order for the water to be completely beneficial to the plants. To estimate the potential water savings, Sandoval and his UC Davis team – undergraduate student Vicki Lin and Ph.D. students Jenna Rodriguez and Belize Lane – had to determine how many growers were surpassing a crop’s ET value.  The scientists interviewed growers to find out the volume of water each grower applied to the crops and the amount of money they invested in crop production. A statistical analysis was completed with applied water data of growers from PVWMA, information from the growers’ interviews, and expert-provided ET values to check for accuracy.

The scientists also analyzed land-use data sets from 2009 and 2011 for this project.  The analysis focused on 2009 because it was a normal year in terms of groundwater extraction. They determined that Pajaro Valley can save between 4,600 and 5,100 acre feet per year through conservation. This agricultural water savings program is anticipated to contribute to 41 percent of the region’s total water savings just by using water more efficiently.

Vegetable growers would take hard hit

Economic impact of water fee increase
This increase in water savings results in a direct decrease in revenue for PVWMA ranging from $842,000 to $929,000. To compensate for this loss in revenue, a potential increase in water extraction fee rates was analyzed. An increase in water fees will affect farmers, especially vegetable crop growers in the coastal region of Pajaro Valley because they already put 60 percent of their total net profits into their investment cost.  These coastal vegetable growers currently receive estimated revenue of $3,910 per growing season. If their water rates are increased by 50 percent, or $103/AF, their revenue will be decreased 6.7 percent ($265) per growing season. The economic impact graph at right shows how an increase in rates will affect farmers, substantially lowering their net profit on crops. Growers of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and nurseries have a larger return on their investments, so an increase in water fees will not affect them as dramatically.

The full 37-page report on this project can be downloaded from a link at the top of http://watermanagement.ucdavis.edu/cooperative-extension/water-savings-agriculture

From left, project team Jenna Rodriguez, Belize Lane and Sam Sandoval. Vicki Lin not shown.
Posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 8:45 AM

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