The Exceptional California Drought
According to the National Climatic Data Center, the first 10 months of 2013 were the driest on record in California,
going back to 1895. In December 2013, 83% of the state was in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor*, with
the Central Valley, the heart of our nation’s fruit orchards and vegetable farms, in extreme drought. The U.S. Department
of Agriculture declared the state a drought disaster area in September 2013. State Water Project allocations are the lowest
on record, therefore, farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley increased groundwater pumping which reduces the capacity
of the Delta-Mendota Canal, the California Aqueduct, and other canals that deliver water.
This month, September 2014, 58.4% of the state is in exceptional drought with 23.5% in
extreme drought. Mono County is in the extreme drought category. With the town of Mammoth Lakes having the highest population
in Mono County, it would be wise and responsible for residents to reduce their water consumption, particularly outdoor
landscape watering, because that is where the majority of the water is used. Turf grass is the most thirsty plant grown in
most landscapes. Removing grass and replacing it with drought tolerant perennials and shrubs is a good choice for reducing
water consumption, without eliminating the landscape entirely.
summer, at Snowcreek 6, we eliminated narrow strips of turf grass along streets and driveways, where the heat from the
asphalt next to the grass made it harder to keep this grass green unless we watered it heavily. We replaced the grass with
flowering perennials, shrubs, and cobblestone rocks. At Snowcreek 5, we did the same thing for the same reasons, we just haven't
installed the plants yet. Plants need months to get their roots established before the winter. Since we started the turf removal
later in the summer at Snowcreek 5, we will wait until next Spring to plant perennials. The photos below were taken at
both properties. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
* U.S. Drought Monitor - California