Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog - Water Conservation

Strategies for Keeping Your Green When the Heat Goes Red

The California water crisis and the hot weather so far this year (and over the last week!) have highlighted the need to plan ahead for community associations' water consumption. For example, in California, where the state government recently mandated a 25% reduction in urban water use, new legislation prohibits HOAs from penalizing residents for replacing their lawns with low-water use plants over concerns about a neighborhood's character. Another California bill prohibits fines for residents who stop watering when a drought emergency has been declared. In other communities across the country, water restrictions have become the norm and residents and architectural review committees clash in disputes over things like the replacement of lawn with artificial turf to reduce water consumption. It may only be a matter of time before these legal issues trickle to Oregon and Washington. Whether you're motivated by the bottom line in the rising cost of water, a wish to help the environment through "greener" practices, or the simple desire to avoid future legal wrangling over landscaping compliance, there are proactive steps your community should think about taking: 1. Amend your community's plan and rules. Consider allowing or even requiring native plants or xeriscaping (sustainable landscaping that may reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation) in the community's landscaping plan and architectural guidelines. Application of such principles can reportedly reduce water consumption by up to two-thirds and may decrease the need for certain landscaping services. 2. Repair or upgrade irrigation equipment. Leaky and inefficient equipment can lead to costly waste. Efficient drip irrigation systems and soil moisture detectors are available at a reasonable cost. 3. Adjust the timing and frequency of irrigation. Qualified landscapers can recommend the most efficient timing and frequency for watering based upon a host of factors like exposure, season, soil conditions, type of plant etc. 4. Store rain water. The collection of rainwater in cisterns may conserve potable water and reduce water charges. The City of Portland reports that the cost ranges from $200 for a 250 gallon cistern to $5,000 for a 10,000 gallon cistern. Talk to a qualified landscaper if you have questions about these and other landscaping options. Other community and online resources may also be available. Of course don't hesitate to contact Barker Martin if you need assistance analyzing the rules and regulations applicable to your community. read more

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