ENCINITAS — The Olivenhain Municipal Water District, in conjunction with the Village Creek Homeowners Association, transformed a parcel of the Village Park neighborhood into a conservation festival on Aug. 12.
Families walking their dogs or going for an evening stroll stopped by to participate in the free event. The public agency sought to educate the community about its water resources and to assist residents in saving both water and money through conservation tactics.
All signs point toward success in achieving the goal of reduced water consumption in the district, which serves 68,000 residents. According to general manager Kimberly Thorner, the consumers are very aware of the water shortage in the area and the need to conserve.
A variety of exhibitors were on hand for those residents interested in learning how to use water more efficiently. Hunter Industries, an international irrigation company based in San Marcos, displayed the latest water efficient sprinkler technology. “We find that a lot of people are motivated to switch to more conservation irrigation procedures by rebates and just the education that goes along with events like these,” said Chris Roesink, a company specification manager.
The district offers several opportunities to save both water and money. A new program that allows customers to replace traditional grass lawns with water-wise landscaping materials is being rolled out later this month.
The carnival-like atmosphere, complete with jumpers and free food, is a way of engaging and educating consumers. “We’re always looking for ways to communicate with the public,” said Management Analyst Supervisor Joey Randall. “We’re moving towards more efficient water techniques and plant materials as a community and we want to encourage that in any way we can,” he said.
The water shortage is evident in use limits and higher bills in most water districts. However, Olivenhain lifted mandatory restrictions effective July 1 since the district ended its Level 2 drought alert. The district implemented its drought alert July 1, 2009.
Thorner cautioned event attendees against thinking a Level 1 drought status relieved them of the need to conserve. According to statistics, there will be less potable water in the future and it will cost more. Yet, she assured them that the district is doing its part to address conservation efforts. “We’re all in this together,” she said. “We ultimately need to reshape our water ethic as this is not a short term problem.”
Local garden guru Nan Sterman spoke to residents about the various ways to plant water-wise gardens using native species. Jake Markum said he and his wife had planted gardens in the past that used too much water. “The plants we chose were beautiful but they drank all day long it seemed,” he said. “Thirsty plants don’t work when you live in this area.”