(Los Angeles) Every day, Damon Ayala crosses the streets of Los Angeles, mopping the sidewalks and gutters. At the slightest puddle, he stopped, saying: “The situation is not critical but it could be a leak in the irrigation system.”
Updated yesterday at 2:00 PM.
The specialist works for the city’s water agency, which receives hundreds of reports each month claiming water wasted as California, and much of the western United States, has for years suffered from chronic drought.
For scientists, there is no doubt that this phenomenon, already observed in the past in the region, was exacerbated by climate change caused by human activities.
With many reservoirs and rivers already reaching historic lows earlier this summer, authorities implemented water restrictions in Los Angeles. Thus gardens can only be watered twice a week, only during the cold hours and not for more than fifteen minutes.
“For example, there are traces of irrigation,” said Mr. Ayala, pointing to a puddle that formed on the sidewalk shortly after 10 am.
The expert carefully notes the address of the place of residence suspected of breaking the rules, from which he is likely to hear soon.
Under the water restriction plan implemented in Los Angeles, only the first violation was found in a warning without charge.
“It will inspire them to take action and correct things they may not have been aware of,” says Damon Ayala.
Repeat offenders are fined US$200-600 but “the money isn’t what matters to us, and it won’t give us more water. What we’re trying to do is change behaviors to save water.”
Things get really tricky in the fifth crime: the water agency services then installs a device on the main entrance which greatly reduces the rate of flow of defective accommodations, leaving only what is absolutely necessary.
It is a procedure that, according to Mr. Ayala, is very rarely performed.
“We’ve had very severe droughts in the past, and Los Angeles residents have responded,” he says.
The city is famous all over the world for its palm tree-lined streets, and also loves beautiful green lawns.
But since the initial drought of 2012-2016, these gardens have begun a slow transformation, as the grass has given way to more suitable plants.
“More than 50% of the water consumed is used for outdoor residential use,” says Pamela Burstler, director of G3 Green Gardens Group, a nongovernmental organization that promotes best practices in the urban landscape.
In particular, he organizes training and workshops to teach Angelins how to transform their gardens to make them less water consuming and more drought tolerant.
Gabriel Golden and Daniel Koblinkas, who live in South Los Angeles, participated in this program a few years ago. “Given the environmental impact of watering the lawn in such a dry climate, not to mention drought, it was an obvious choice,” said the couple, who wanted to set an example for their neighbors.
In their garden there are plants that are endemic to the area, such as succulents or California oaks, much smaller and more rustic than their European cousin.
Trainer at G3 Green Gardens Group, Marianne Simon insists on the fact that gardens like this can be just as beautiful as other gardens with very little water used. “There are areas in California where you can only water once a week, and there are gardens that are happy with that,” she pleads.
MI Simon also insists that it is important not to trade the grass for synthetic turf or worse cement.
“We shouldn’t just think in terms of saving water, but we should have a more global perspective,” she says.
“If you measure the temperature in a vegetated area compared to gravel, it will easily be 10°C cooler and retain water allowing aquifers to be recharged,” the expert adds.
At the same time, automatic watering explodes in a house across the street. It’s mid-afternoon and the thermometer reads 36 degrees Celsius.
“It is sad to see. But on the other hand, this is a lesson,” says Marianne Simon, referring to this garden with its stunted grass.
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