Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Eye on the Environment - Ocean Friendly Gardens & KYH2O

Eye on the Environment - How to Make Your Gardens Ocean Friendly

Published in the VC Star August 11, 2013

How would you like a big group of surfers to help you give CPR to your garden? The Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation can help you create an Ocean Friendly Garden by applying the principles of CPR, which stands for Conservation Permeability and Retention.

Today is the last day of the Ventura County Fair, where the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has an actual Ocean Friendly Garden on display in the Floriculture Pavilion. If you miss it today, you still have many more opportunities to learn these principles. These landscapes merit the Surfrider-trademarked term “Ocean Friendly Garden” because they conserve water, native habitat and energy with local and edible plants; create permeable soil and hard surfaces to absorb and filter polluted runoff; and retain rainwater to irrigate plants, replenish creeks and groundwater, and prevent flooding downstream.

Surfrider volunteers recently re-landscaped a yard in Ventura’s midtown area to make it an Ocean Friendly Garden. They removed the lawn, then “sheet mulched” (smothered) the remaining roots. Rainwater from the roof was redirected into dry streambeds planted with climate appropriate plants plus mulch to slow, spread and sink the rainwater.

The project also created cuts in the curbs of the parkway (area between street and sidewalk) to absorb street runoff. The City has created a no-cost curb-cutting permit that makes it possible to re-do our planted parkways to capture the majority of street runoff for a fraction of the cost of a more engineered solution.

OFG is part of Surfrider’s larger program to “Know Your H2O,” which is described in our video titled “Cycle of Insanity.” While new development must apply CPR-type requirements, existing developments do not. It seems insane to channel all rainfall into storm drains that deliver polluted runoff directly to our rivers and coasts, wasting water that could be directed into our over-pumped aquifers and waterways. It also seems insane to discharge millions of gallons of highly treated wastewater (from sinks, showers, washing machines and toilets) into the ocean every day. From the dry Ventura River to the flooded McGrath State Beach Park, to the east county cities that import water from northern California, Ventura County has many signs that our management of water can be improved.

For example, while about half the water consumed within the city of Ventura is used on landscapes, the rest is used just once in our homes before we send it to the ‘wastewater’ treatment plant.  There it is treated and pumped into the Santa Clara River estuary, contributing to the flooding problem at McGrath State Beach.  One solution may be recycling this wastewater, which could not only enhance water supply but also reduce impacts on our drying rivers.  Ventura and other facilities in the County, such as the Moorpark Wastewater Treatment Plant, already sell recycled water for use on golf courses.  In Orange County reclaimed water is pumped into the ground to counteract the saltwater intrusion that is also a problem in our aquifers. And as technologies advance, direct potable reuse (for drinking) will become the norm.

Although individual citizens have little control over infrastructure, the solution begins at home.  This is why Surfrider's “Ocean Friendly Gardens” program is catching on throughout the region. Surfrider, City staff and trained professionals have helped many local homeowners improve their gardens as well as assisted with several municipal projects in the City of Ventura.

Surfrider volunteers may not be able to help everyone. So keep your eye on the environment at free classes on Ocean Friendly Gardens, sponsored by the City of Ventura and Aqua-Flo irrigation supply store, starting in September. Check out Surfrider events and see if your local chapter is able to assist you. Also, look at the gardens on the Ocean Friendly Garden map, and start evaluating your garden and making changes – or hire a professional who applies CPR.

On the web:
Calendar -
Video -
Map –
Chapter -
City -

Also published in the VCReporter:

Paul Jenkin is the Surfrider Foundation’sVentura Campaign Coordinator, and
Paul Herzog is the Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Coordinator