Big fines might be next phase of California drought battle

water waster

Water waster

Is California about to get tough on water wasters?

That’s the question after Gov. Jerry Brown this week announced plans to fine customers that waste water up to $10,000 per day in an effort to force conservation during the worsening drought. With Brown demanding urban areas cut water use by 25%, some wonder whether the state has much of a choice.

Are hefty fines the most effective tool?

Until now, many major cities including Los Angeles have shied away from issuing hefty fines. They argue they are getting strong results with a program that emphasizes educational information and warnings over big penalties.

Los Angeles has cut water use by about 10% since early last year and is on track to comply with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s order to slash consumption by 20% by 2017.

Tiered water pricing under assault

Until recently, some water officials believed they had a more effective weapon in their arsenal to force conservation.

Many water agencies around California have adopted tiered water rates that essentially encourage conservation by charging heavy water users at a higher rate than lighter users.

But an appeals court last week threw the legality of this rate structure into question, saying an Orange County water agency’s tiered rates were unconstitutional because it didn’t show that the higher rates reflected only the cost of providing the water.

Higher fines for water wasters are another option.

“Fines are a tool, and they’re the last tool you use,” Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of California’s Water Resources Control Board said after Brown’s announcement.

One possible model for the get-tough approach is Santa Cruz. Last summer, the coastal community imposed a strict rationing program. The city issued $1.6 million in water fines in 2014 and gave violators the option to waive their penalties by attending “water school.” So many people attended that the city collected only about $800,000 in fines.

The governor’s proposal would also empower cities and counties to issue fines. Local governments would be able to enlist staff members to hand out warnings and citations, expanding the ranks of officials prodding Californians to meet conservation targets.

“Only the worst offenders” would face the maximum fines, Brown said.

Source: Big fines might be next phase of California drought battle

Drought kills 12 million trees in California’s national forests – LA Times

Rangers in the San Bernardino National Forest call them “red trees.”Instead of the typical deep green color, large swaths of pine trees now don hues of death, their dehydrated needles turning brown and burnt-red because of the state’s worsening drought.“Unlike back East, where you have fall colors, here it’s because the trees are dying,” said John Miller, a spokesman for the San Bernardino National Forest.Years of extremely dry conditions are taking a heavy toll on forest lands across California and heightening the fire risk as summer approaches.“The situation is incendiary,” William Patzert, a climatologist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told The Times recently. “The national forest is stressed out.”CAPTIONChance of El Nino increases, but what does that mean? Chance of El Nino increases, but what does that mean?Insects swarming toward homes because of droughtDrought expected to result in billion-dollar firesCelebrities soaking their lawns despite droughtMillions of drought-stricken trees could fuel wildfiresA new study by the U.S. Forest Service tried to assess the scope of the problem. Researchers estimated that the drought has killed off at least 12.5 million trees in California’s national forests during the drought.The scientists expect the die-off to continue. “It is almost certain that millions more trees will die over the course of the upcoming summer as the drought situation continues and becomes ever more long term,” said biologist Jeffrey Moore, acting regional aerial survey program manager for the U.S. Forest Service.Moore and other researchers conducted an aerial survey of more than 8.2 million acres of forest last month.Using a digital aerial sketch-mapping system, researchers flew in a fixed-wing aircraft about 1,000 feet above ground level and surveyed areas in the Cleveland, San Bernardino, Angeles and Los Padres national forests. Some private lands and Pinnacles National Park in Central California were also surveyed.

Source: Drought kills 12 million trees in California’s national forests – LA Times

Getting Creative on Saving Water: Tips from Experts and Listeners | News Fix | KQED News

California’s new statewide water restrictions take effect on June 1. Depending on where you live, your water district could be asked to cut urban water use by as much as 36 percent compared with usage in 2013. And with maximum fines now set at $10,000 and the citation process a bit more streamlined, many Californians are going to have to move from merely thinking about conserving water to actually doing it.Some who already let yellow mellow and take “military showers” may be wondering if it’s even possible to further reduce their water use. Still others may balk at residential conservation, given how much water agriculture uses.Australians Do it BetterBut during a discussion on KQED’s Forum, Heather Cooley, water program director for the Pacific Institute,  said that households in California “have a lot of potential to be doing better.”Cooley points to Australia, where average household water consumption is 54 gallons per person per day. In California, the average is about 140 gallons per person per day.If you take a long-term view of the drought, a lot of the new demands for water are in residential and commercial use,  or what’s referred to as “urban” use in water policy vernacular. According to Cooley, urban conservation not only improves the situation for the current drought, but also reduces the state’s “need to develop new, more expensive water supplies in the future,” she said.One way that Californians can get closer to Australians in water consumption is to install water-efficient appliances.Even if you have replaced fixtures as recently as the past decade, new models on the market may be more efficient.

Source: Getting Creative on Saving Water: Tips from Experts and Listeners | News Fix | KQED News

How to Kill a Tree

How to Kill a tree infographic

How to Kill a tree



Please don’t do these things and your tree should be okay

Top the tree

leave Codominant Leaders

leave Cross branching

Don’t treat pest or disease

Seal or coat pruning cuts

leave broken branches in the tree

Apply herbicides over the roots or under the canopy

Damage roots with machines

cut roots

plant too close to buildings

nail things to the tree

Prune too close to the main part of the tree

Leave stakes on too long

leave things tied around the trunk

put too much mulch right up against the base of the tree

over water the tree

Don’t break up the root ball at planting

Plant too deeply

Hire the wrong arborist to apply treatments that you don’t need

Water Management 103 – Drip Irrigation

water 103

We renovated this property in Pleasanton from an overhead spray system to Netafim drip.

First off, the team at Cleary Bros. Landscape would like to thank everyone who has been participating in the ceremonial rain dances as of late. We’ve seen some much needed precipitation in the last month. However, we are still in a serious state of drought and we can’t afford to relax yet. In this, our 3rd installation of our Water Management Series we would like to discuss drip irrigation.

Drip irrigation comes in many forms. Most people are familiar with the small thin black tubing that weaves its way through the landscape, most of the time looking somewhat unruly. Many of us in the industry call these thin lines spaghetti tubes.

There are two other commonly used types of drip. One is 1/2 inch black poly tubing with emitters that are plugged into it. The other is a newer technology where the drip emitters are housed inside the tubing. One brand that you may have heard of is Netafim Techline.

Converting a planter bed from an overhead spray system to a drip system can dramatically improve your landscape’s water efficiency while lowering your water bill. Drip systems, when installed and maintained correctly, are the most efficient form of irrigation. This is because the majority of the water put out is delivered to the root system of the plant material being watered. With that in mind there are several benefits to converting to a drip system which include:


An overall reduction in water used to irrigate planter beds.

Less weed growth in planter beds. This is due to the fact that you are not watering the entire bed but only the root zones of the plants.

Lower likelihood of damage to asphalt, fences, and walls that occurs from over spray. Over spray from regular pop-ups in the landscape will almost always occur. By utilizing drip irrigation you can extend the life of your asphalt, fences, and siding by reducing or eliminating exposure to water.

Mulch will fade much slower in planter beds that have drip irrigation, this will lengthen the useful life of your bark and mulch.

Typical repairs to drip systems are less costly than spray systems.

EBMUD and other Water Districts are offering rebates to convert from spray to drip! Consult your irrigation specialist because only certain types of drip systems will qualify.

The benefits of converting from overhead spray to drip irrigation are tangible and will save your property money in the long run. With all of the options, it may be difficult to determine what method is best for your property? Give us a call, or Send us an Email, and our team of Irrigation Specialists and Account Managers will start the process of identifying areas that can benefit from a conversion to drip. We will also work with you and your water district to check for potential rebates.

Water 103B

This lush landscape in the Oakland Hills was installed by Cleary Bros. with inline drip irrigation over ten years ago. We have been maintaining it ever since.

TIP! By adding a layer of mulch over the top of your newly installed drip system you will not only cover up the drip lines themselves but you will also reduce evaporation thus increasing your systems efficiency!

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we will dive into more detail on the topic of water conservation. If you would like more information on the drought and ways that Cleary Bros. can help, please contact us. Interested in having Cleary Bros. provide an short but helpful educational event for your property management staff, please contact us to schedule a Lunch and Learn. Do you own or manage a commercial site or HOA that might benefit from the professional maintenance services of Cleary Bros, please call or email us!

Israel to California: Here’s how to save water

YATIR FOREST, Israel — As Californians struggle with an ever-worsening water shortage caused by a historic drought, they might look east for a solution — to the Middle East.Israel, subject to intermittent droughts for decades, has pioneered a number of water-saving techniques. It long ago figured out how to grow crops in the desert and for decades has advised the developing world on how to manage scarce water resources.Now, Israel is eager to share its latest know-how with drought-ridden states like California. These helpful techniques include water quotas, desalination plants and the reuse of household wastewater.USA TODAYMandated cuts will be tough for Calif. water districtsSix years ago when Israel was in the grips of its own dire drought, the government actually considered shipping in water from Turkey — more than 1,000 nautical miles away. Instead, the country embarked on a coordinated effort of recycling used water, desalination and education.”Israel no longer has a water shortage,” said Uri Shani, a Hebrew University professor and former director of the Israel Water Authority.

Source: Israel to California: Here’s how to save water