Water Agency Teams Up with APLD-CA to Promote Sustainable Landscapes

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by Georgia Madden and Katie Creighton


Over the years, water agencies throughout California have taken a variety of approaches to address water supply and demand challenges and water conservation education. As far as we know, EBMUD, the East Bay Municipal Water District in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the only agency in the state to create a unique partnership with the public to expand its conservation efforts. EBMUD provides drinking water to 1.4 million customers and wastewater services to 685,000 customers in parts of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

In the 1980’s, in response to another serious drought period, EBMUD created a Landscape Advisory Committee (LAC). The agency asked landscape professionals, including designers, contractors, retail/wholesale nurseries, growers, educators, manufacturers, distributors and property managers to share their perspectives and provide ideas for improved public and professional education.

The LAC has worked with EBMUD to help develop and implement forward-thinking programs promoting drought-resilient landscape design and sustainable installation, maintenance and management practices.

The APLD Connection

In addition to its general bimonthly forum, the Landscape Advisory Committee has three subcommittees that develop specific tools and programs—excellent vehicles for APLD to influence the future of landscape design. APLD-CA Bay Area District members Katie Creighton and Georgia Madden are active participants and encourage others to join them.

The Education and Outreach subcommittee focuses on public education, exposing homeowners to a more sustainable California landscape aesthetic. Currently they are facilitating support for the renovation work of demonstration gardens to encourage their visibility in EBMUD service areas.

The Technical subcommittee creates easy-to-use technical tools, such as an online water use calculator, for EBMUD residential customers eager to manage landscape water use. This tool incorporates the requirements found in the state water-use law known as MWELO.

The Professional Development subcommittee works on training tools for landscape professionals, such as a peer-to-peer chat group, online links to educational sources and a training events calendar.

Here’s Your Chance!

The LAC welcomes new members. General meetings are held every other month at the EBMUD headquarters in downtown Oakland. Each meeting includes water supply updates and features a guest speaker or field trip. Inspiring presentations have included how to bring failing oaks back to life, creating rain gardens, the secret life of soil and drought-tolerant natives for the garden. Subcommittees meet monthly or as needed.

To follow the LAC activities online, go to www.EBMUD.com, click on Conservation and Rebates, then click on Landscape Advisory Committee.