Water Authority Unveils Resources to Advance Region’s Outdoor Water-Use Efficiency

 
Short Title
Water Authority Unveils Resources to Advance Outdoor Water-Use Efficency
Online videos for homeowners, training for professionals promote water-efficient landscapes
March 29, 2016

The San Diego County Water Authority has launched two new resources to help homeowners and landscape professionals increase water-use efficiency countywide and make WaterSmart living a permanent way of life.

The tools unveiled recently include a new series of online videos to help guide homeowners through the process of transforming their yards into water-efficient landscapes, and the local introduction of an EPA-approved training program for landscape professionals. The Water Authority began development of these resources as part of a package of enhanced drought response outreach efforts approved by the Board last year.

“Our region already is a leader in water-use efficiency, as we’ve reduced per-capita water use by nearly 40 percent since 1990,” said Mark Weston, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “These new programs will continue that leadership tradition by helping more residents design and install attractive, water-saving outdoor spaces, and helping landscapers better manage their customers’ landscape irrigation.”

The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program’s Videos On Demand expand the reach of the Water Authority’s award-winning WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes, which offer in-depth instruction for upgrading turf yards into water-efficient landscapes that will thrive in the San Diego region. Designed for access by computer or mobile device, the video series condenses the classes’ main content into 17 short episodes, beginning with an introduction to water issues in the San Diego region and transitioning into the six steps toward implementing a successful landscape makeover.

Viewers follow the host, local landscape expert Sharon Lowe, as she helps participants identify water-use efficiency targets, create a basic plot plan, evaluate their sites and soils, design personalized WaterSmart landscapes, and implement their plans by removing turf and planting water-efficient landscapes. Viewers also learn how to care for their WaterSmart landscapes to keep them thriving while saving water. While the videos are designed to be watched in sequence, viewers interested in specific subjects also can directly go to individual episodes.

“The great benefit of these videos is their accessibility; they can be viewed from nearly anywhere,” said Joni German, assistant water resources specialist at the Water Authority. “In-person instruction is wonderful for those who can commit to a schedule, but some can’t. People now have another option for taking advantage of what the Landscape Makeover program has to offer, and a valuable source of information that can easily be referenced from the nursery aisle or the garden.”

To access the online videos or learn more about the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program, go to LandscapeMakeover.WaterSmartSD.org, or to the Water Authority’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/SDCWAvideo. Homeowners interested in taking the full class series in person can still do so; the next classes begin in mid-April, with registration open through April 1.

The Water Authority also is now a partner in the Qualified Water-Efficient Landscaper training program. Classes for landscape professionals began in February and now are being scheduled throughout the year. This program, which meets EPA WaterSense standards and was originally developed by the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership in Northern California,  provides landscape professionals with 20 hours of instruction, covering lessons about proper plant selection for local climates and irrigation system design, maintenance, programming and operation. Participants receive a certificate after demonstrating their ability to complete an irrigation system audit and passing a QWEL exam, and are listed on QWEL’s national directory of trained professionals.

“The more knowledgeable our local landscape pros are about best practices in landscape water management, the more their customers and the region will succeed in maintaining beautiful, climate-appropriate gardens that save water and money,” said Carlos Michelon, principal water resources specialist at the Water Authority. “QWEL’s launch in San Diego will help landscape pros carry out irrigation strategies to bring their customers optimal water-efficiency savings. Consumers in San Diego County now have a source for professionals trained in accomplishing that.”

Go to QWEL.WaterSmartSD.orgfor more information about QWEL, including registration instructions for landscape professionals, a schedule of upcoming classes and information about hiring QWEL-trained landscapers.

In addition to these new resources aimed at long-term drought readiness, the Water Authority continues to work with multiple partners to help homeowners and business owners maximize water efficiency through the current historic drought. Go to www.whenindrought.org for links to water-use rules by community and other conservation resources, such as incentives for a range of water-saving measures, from rain barrels to low-water-use devices and appliances.