By Angelina Garibay |Staff Writer|
A walk through the CSUSB campus reveals acres of luxuriant lawns, graceful shade trees and trim shrubbery. It is a beautiful campus.
But, all this beauty comes at a cost in water resources.
Tony Simpson, the senior director of facilities, says that at least 50 percent of the water used for irrigation comes from CSUSB’s own well.
The grounds keepers do their magic with conservation in mind. Simpson explained that they aerate the 100 acres of lawns on a rotating basis to keep them healthy, because a healthy lawn will use less water.
However, the rest of us in the state are not so water conservation conscious.
No one can deny that water usage in California is a big problem. Californians are estimated to use around 50 to 70 percent of their drinking water on landscaping.
That is a problem when California’s water is imported from other states.
This state does not receive enough annual rainfall to sustain the population and keep the beautiful lawns green and growing, hence the importation of water.
One celebrity, Ed Begley Jr. of “Saint Elsewhere” fame, has made it his life’s work to inform people of different conservation notions. Number one on his list of “12 Things the World Should Toss Out” in The Washington Post are lawns.
He replaced his entire front lawn with fruit trees, vegetable and herb plants which he likened to committing “American heresy,” because of the lawn being such a traditional part of American life.
CSUSB has gotten on board with this idea with the Water Research Institute (WRI) and will unveil their newest project on June 4. Currently their San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation Demonstration Garden is located near the Coussoulis Arena.
This one acre garden is a demonstration to the community of the value and beauty of drought resistant plants. They are even offering a workshop to the public, Landscaping 101.
But, while the garden is an admirable beginning, the rest of the campus needs to be looked at and reevaluated accordingly.
Not only is water a valuable resource to our community, it is expensive.
Instead of seeing those precious budget dollars evaporate in our atmosphere for the visual pleasure of the faculty and students of the university, let’s turn the entire campus into a xeriscaped wonderland.
Xeriscape is derived from the Greek word for dry and it is a landscaping method that was created for arid environments incorporating a water conservation approach. It uses slow growing, non-thirsty plants.
Besides water conservation, other benefits of xeriscaping are less pruning, less plant trimmings to dispose of and the plants thrive on less fertilization.
If the grass on campus was reduced and replaced there would be a savings on the lawn mowers’ gas and maintenance, not to mention less emissions spewed into the air.
President Theodore Roosevelt’s words still ring true over a hundred years later: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others.”