South Coast REC: Linking urban landscapes, water conservation and water quality
Here, Haver, who also serves as county director and water resources/quality advisor for UC ANR Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in Orange County, is studying two major aspects of residential water use: how much is used in different landscapes, and how much pollution occurs in any runoff from those landscapes. From 50% to 70% of residential water use is applied to landscaping. Typically the landscaping is over-irrigated, producing runoff that enters storm drains and creeks and eventually the ocean.
... ntually the ocean. The runoff may contain pesticides, most commonly pyrethroids found in lawn insecticides and ant sprays, which are entering urban watersheds at levels toxic to aquatic invertebrates. The landscaped housing sites at South Coast REC are testing best management practices (BMPs) for residential water conservation and environmental protection. They serve as demonstration gardens for local homeowners and are inspiring new partnerships beyond UC -with pesticide manufacturers, for example, and even big-box stores. The residential-use water study began here in this uniquely urban REC in 2005. With environmental chemist Jay Gan, at UC Riverside's (UCR) Department of Environmental Sciences, and entomologists Les Greenberg and Michael Rust, in the UCR Department of Entomology, Haver was investigating how insecticides were reaching local creeks. Haver became interested in the very high use of ant sprays and lawn insecticides around Home site A, left, represents a typical California yard. By contrast, Site C, right, incorporates a variety of features that save water and reduce runoff: native Southern California plants (including the lawn), permeable paving and a smart irrigation controller that responds to weather conditions. Outreach materials like this door hanger help garden maintenance and pesticide application companies to communicate with residents about pesticide runoff.