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Santa Clara Water District Rebate Program Second Step – Notice to Proceed

  IMG_5666_1 In the last post on this topic, we talked about the first step of the Santa Clara Water District Landscape Conversion Rebate Program: schedule and receive a Pre-Inspection.   At the inspection, someone from the Rebate Program will inspect the yard, decide whether it qualifies for the rebates or not (Landscape Conversion Rebate, Irrigation Equipment Upgrade Rebate etc).  If yes, they will provide the rebate program application forms to be filled out and sent back.  If approved, a Notice to Proceed will be received. Application Submission The key information to be entered on Application Form before one can submit include:

  1. “diagram or set of plans” for the landscape.

The diagram can be a just a  sketch of the yard and where the plants will be placed.  To see some design of the gardens, see Garden Photos. 2.  plant list, each plant’s coverage value, and the total plant coverage (square feet). To receive the rebate, the old lawn needs to be replaced  “with a minimum of 50 percent plant coverage consisting of low water using plants from the water district’s Approved Plant List. ”  For example, if the lawn’s total area is 1,000 square feet, then at least 500 square feet needs to be covered by plants from the “Qualifying Plant List” provided. To see what some of the plants on the list are like and their coverage, visit Water Efficient Plants IMG_2361 For people who are qualified to receive Irrigation Equipment Upgrade Rebate, they also should enter the info for the equipment.  For example, if the equipment approved is weather-based irrigation controller and rain sensor, one can select the products from the list provided by the Rebate Program, and fill in the make and model info on the form.  A rebate will be given for such products, along with the lawn conversion, if all the requirements are met. Receiving Notice to Proceed About 2-4 weeks after the application is submitted,  one may receive a Notice to Proceed from the Rebate Program.  This means the fund for the rebate is set aside, and the home owner can proceed to purchase materials and install the garden. On the notice, it will show a “Project Completion Due Date”, which is 3 months from the date the notice is issued.  To receive the rebate, one needs to finish the project by the due date.  (It is possible to apply for and obtain an extension). Notice to Proceed Purchasing Materials and Getting Ready for Installment Shopping time for plants!  Go to nurseries and buy all the plants as indicated on the application.  Pick the ones that look strongest and have the best chance to grow.  Purchase other materials too – mulch, etc. IMG_5638 With all the materials, the brown lawn is ready to be converted to a beautiful water efficient garden! IMG_3436 IMG_5945          

Fall is a great time to install a water efficient garden

IMG_5638 After a 5 year historical drought in California, many houses’ lawns have gone brown.  While this shows we are all doing our part to conserve water which we are all proud of, the lawn, well, can look a little bit nicer……Here comes the good news:  fall is a very good time to remove the lawn, plant water efficient plants and have a beautiful garden!  Not only is the time great for plants, thanks to landscape conversion programs such as the one offered by Santa Clara Water District, by doing it now, you may also receive some rebates. DSC_0305 Fall is one of the best times for planting Fall is one of the best times in the year for planting. There are several reasons for this.

  • Soil moisture good for the roots.   After plants are placed in soil, to establish and grow in the new place, they need the soil to be “wet” enough so the roots can establish.   As fall and winter are the wet season in California, and combined they can last several months long,  roots have the right environment and time to adjust and grow.
  • Temperature.  Very cold winter and very hot summer days can be harsh for young plants.  Fall offers the optimal temperature.
  • Great for spring bloomers.  A lot of plants bloom in spring.  If they are planted in fall, by next spring some of them may grow enough to bloom. Blossom in spring – what a lovely view!
  • Good for pollinators.  As their population dwindle, bees need more plants that they can feed on.  By growing plants now, come spring time bees will have much more places to go to have their meal.

  Many beautiful plants to choose from There are a large collection of plants that are both water efficient and beautiful.  If the lawn is replaced with plants that are on the Qualifying Plant List of Santa Clara Water District Landscape Rebate Program, it is eligible to receive the rebate of $1 per square feet.  Browse some of these water efficient plants here. IMG_5642 Conserve water, enjoy the garden A beautiful garden is not only something you can enjoy everyday, but will also go a long way to conserve water.  As California enters its 6th year of drought, we all need to do our part to conserve water. Outdoor watering for a lawn typically accounts for half or more of an household’s total water use; to convert a lawn to a water efficient garden, the water consumption for outdoor watering can be reduced by 30 to 60%, for total household 15 -40%. You may receive rebate by removing the lawn and putting in water efficient plants now ($1 per square feet if all requirements are met).  Find out more about the Santa Clara Landscape Conversion Rebate Program here. SaveWater Why wait?  Now is the great time to plan and build that lovely water efficient garden! IMG_6049          

California Enters Its 6th Year of Drought

IMG_1665 Oct 1 marks the the first day of new water year in California.  After the previous 5 years of drought, it is becoming clear the new year will be another dry one, continuing the drought that started from 2012.  6th year of drought – that is what we are facing. The photo above was shot during a hike at the Steven Creek area in Santa Clara county, South Bay.  It was alarming to see, the creek, once so wide, as evidenced by the river bed area, has shrunk down to just a very narrow line. In the creek, there is hardly enough water to sustain the flow.  Some parts of the creek has completely run dry. IMG_1681 IMG_1684 As of now, 62% of the state is still in Severe Drought, with 42% in Extreme Drought.  The rains brought by El Nino last year did alleviate the drought to some extent, but did not end it.  In Southern California the drought situation continue to be very serious. Drought 20161011_ca_none Still Need to Conserve Water Facing the severe drought situation, everyone in the state still need to put in the effort and conserve water.  When the emergency regulation of 25% mandatory reduction was implemented last year, collectively, Californians conserved 24.5% of water from June 2015 to May 2016.  It was a very remarkable achievement. After the mandate was lifted this June, unfortunately, the water conservation levels declined 3 months in a row.  In August, it went below 20%,  the lowest for any summer and fall months since last year. The situation is loud and clear: we are still in a drought, and we can not afford to use water like before. IMG_2079 Replace Lawn with Water Efficient Garden Outdoor watering for a lawn typically accounts for half or more of an household’s total water use; to convert a lawn to a water efficient garden is the most effective way to conserve water.   Use this calculator to find out how much water you can save by converting. For a lawn of 500 square feet, it can take as much as 4000 gallons of water in a month; if it is replaced with a water efficient garden, 30% to 80% of water can be conserved.  Suppose the original household water usage is 8000 gallons a month, and the garden saves 50% of water, the total water usage will reduce to 6000 gallons, a 25% saving versus the original.   Water In Santa Clara County, you may get rebate for replacing your lawn.  The Rebate Program is still open for application.  Hurry, put in your application now before the funds are depleted. An Water Efficient Garden Can Be Beautiful A water efficient garden do not need to be bare or arid; on the contrary, it can be full of colors and very pretty.  Select from a variety of plants of different colors, shapes, height and coverage; choose a design that best showcase each plant’s beauty. A4      

Water conservation: how did Californians do after mandate?

The latest water conservation number just came in.  In August, Californians reduced water usage by 17.7% vs. 2013, 35% less than what was achieved last August (27%). P1 This continued the trend since June, when the state conservation mandate ended and the new flexible local targets set in.  It June the water saving declined to 21.5% from 27.5%, and in July from 31.3% to 20%. P3 While both June and July numbers declined versus one year ago, the 17.7% in August was the first time that the reduction dipped below 20%, the worst showing for any summer and fall months since last year.  This is concerning, especially when it looks California may head into its 6th consecutive drought year. P2

California Water Conservation Mandate

In April 2015, facing California’s historical 4 year drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order making it mandatory that statewide urban water use be reduced by 25% compared with 2013 levels starting June 2015.  Right after that, the State Water Board adopted an emergency regulation, requiring an immediate 25 percent reduction in overall potable urban water use. Since the mandate started, Californians stepped up their conservation efforts, and statewide water conservation immediately jumped from 13.7% in April, to 29.0% in May, which more than doubled the April figure.  The conservation maintained at above 20% levels every month, until the cold and rainy winter months from December to February. Overall,  the statewide water savings for the twelve months from June 2015 to May 2016 was 24.5 percent, when the mandate was effective.  After the mandate, from Jun to Aug 2016, each month’s reduction is lower than this level.

New Water Conservation Regulation – No Statewide Mandate

In May 2016, with impressive water saving achievements for a whole year, and a close-to-normal winter rainfall volume brought by El NiNo, the state’s Water Board revised the emergency water conservation regulations. Instead of a statewide mandate, urban water agencies have the ability to set their own conservation standards based on a “stress test” of supply reliability.  They are now required to reduce potable water use in a percentage equal to their projected shortfall in the event of three more dry years. After this more flexible approach was implemented, though water saving continued at 20% levels for two months, they declined from those of a year ago.  Now, with the lower than expected 17.7% in August, the Water Board indicated this is a “yellow flag” and will closely monitor the situation.

Continue with Water Conservation

IMG_9797[1] It is clear we need to continue with water conservation.  Limit outdoor watering, as about half of water consumed by Californians are used outdoors.  Replace the lawn with a water efficient garden.  Calculate how much water you can save here. A water efficient garden can not only save water, but be beautiful as well. Take a look at some of the gardens ; browse these drought tolerant plants. Find ideas and inspirations from the blog. P10