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SOURCE Summer 2012

onlineexclusive Alternative Water Sources: Rain Harvesting By Torrey Webb, Vallecitos Water District MSustainable landscapes are planted hands with cutting edge projects geared at the roof that would otherwise be wastedAn alternate source lowering reliance onpotable water, the system collects rain from45-square-mile area of North San DiegoCounty—to take matters into its ownost landscapes are planted andcultivated for vibrant plants. and cultivated for a vibrant future. In a span improving sustainability. and stores it in three tanks with a combined of approximately six months, initiated with 2,500 gallons of capacity. Considering alternate sources was not volunteered design plans from Palomar unusual at Vallecitos. The district spent The captured water from the system College’s Environmental Architecture and millions of dollars upgrading its water recla- supplies water to prominent water features Design class and continued with donations mation plant to recycle and resale up to 74 located throughout the garden. Similarly, and assistance from various businesses and percent of the wastewater generated in its the features run on solar power, easing reli- organizations in the community, Vallecitos service area, lowering regional demand for ance on electricity from the California grid. Water District (Vallecitos) now has a beautiful, potable water in the process. sustainable demonstration garden that uses Further resource savings are demonstrated minimal resources as a benefit to all. Vallecitos also continues to investigate the through the use of California-friendly viability of receiving up to 7,500 acre feet plants. When combined with mulch and Today, the vast assortment of colorful, or approximately half of its annual supply compost, the plants are sustained with California-friendly plants on vivid display from desalinated water from a soon-to-be moisture and nutrients, eliminating or complementing the outside of the water constructed plant in Carlsbad. The sustain- reducing the need for fertilizers, which can district’s San Marcos headquarters are the ability effort went beyond water when be harmful to the environment if they flow result of harvested seeds. This garden’s the district erected solar parking ports to into the storm drain system. conception, however, actually started way provide up to 90 percent of the energy used before any architectural design student’s by its headquarters facility. With the final components of a weather- pen hit paper or a community volunteer based irrigation controller display, shade worker’s shovel was forcefully driven into However, there was a problem. As progres- structures constructed of partially recycled the course, dry ground. sive as the majority of the solutions were for aluminum instead of wood, dry riverbeds, bolstering water supply for the future, they artificial turf, micro-irrigation, and an Vallecitos is 100 percent reliant on imported artistic sculpture demonstrating the valuedidn’t offer much in the form of tangibility— water supplies from its wholesalers. of water, Vallecitos’ new garden boasts thea form of conservation easily identified with However, lack of rain and snow continue perfect blend to please aesthetically whilethat could appeal to Vallecitos customers’ to plague availability from the Colorado reducing the demand on limited resourcessense of touch and feel. River Basin, and the possibility of drought for the future. and increased environmental regulations As a remedy, Vallecitos went to work on restricting pumping from the Sacramento- the region’s first sustainability garden. The new Vallecitos garden is one of the few San Joaquin Bay Delta in Northern Cali- Converting the existing landscape of deco- locations in North San Diego County that fornia, potentially limit water availability in rative plants, the new garden is a demon- demonstrates sustainability for all to visit. S the future. stration of conservation in action that every This prompted the agency—responsible Torrey Webb is Public Information Representa-visitor can take in on the run. for supplying water and wastewater service One important sustainable feature is the tive for the Vallecitos Water District. to approximately 96,500 residents in a garden’s rainwater harvesting system. 28 SOURCE summer 2012


SOURCE Summer 2012
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