BC’s usage of water ‘needs to change’

Brooke Howard, Features Editor

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Now that the California Assembly passed over $1 billion in spending bills for water and drought relief projects, Bakersfield College’s Agriculture Department chair Lindsay Ono has some advice for our own campus water conservation.

“Even here our campus needs to change the way they are doing things,” he said. “They have gone to a concept of no water. That’s actually worse for the campus in terms of money and costs. When you have a brown ground, you will have higher energy costs. So energy costs go up because your grass is gone, which cools the area, so you get more reflective heat. You should always keep your lawns and trees in good shape.”

Ono is also the president of California Landscape Contractors Association Kern County Board of Directors and host of talk show Country Garden 96.1 FM.

“The number one thing I would recommend for our campus is to raise their mows up one and a half to two inches above the mowing height they are at now,” Ono said. “Having your grass taller cools the air, lowers energy costs, and saves water by absorbing it instead of evaporating when it’s too short.”

By keeping the grass at this length, BC will not only have a green campus but will also cut 20 percent off the time it takes to mow. This saves valuable gas for the lawn mower and time according to Ono.

On March 26, the California Assembly passed over $1 billion in spending bills for these drought relief projects and rights to fine citizens not abiding the new restrictions.

These bills, just waiting for Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, are just the beginning of the change to the way California handles our water.

“Over 50 percent of water in California is actually wasted,” Ono said.

“Most of this [wasted water] is applied to the yards and in the homes,” Ono said. “That’s a lot of water that could be saved based off of changing some of our habits.”

The new water regulations that are going to directly affect the urban population include things such as restricting to watering your yard twice a week. Any run-off water from your home irrigation system could result in a hefty fine, and if you are thinking about washing your car, driveway or sidewalk, don’t do so without a shut-off nozzle.

You are also not able to use your outdoor irrigation, such as sprinklers or hose, during times of rain or measurable precipitation.

These new water restrictions not only affect us at our homes, but where and what we eat as well.

Without water, the production of vegetables and fruits will lower, directly affecting our nutrition and economy.

One Bakersfield grape farmer said, “If the people of California don’t do something quick, our economy won’t even have grapes. I will have to let my vines die and the production of table grapes will be low.”

Ono also commented on the problems agriculture is facing with the drought.

“There are no [water] restrictions on ag, and the reason why is because they have to pay for their water.”

According to Ono, farmers today pay substantially more than what they did five years ago.

“They pay a lot for their water,” he said. “And, in agriculture, they are allotted so much water and that’s it. Once they run out, they are out for the rest of the year.”

Many restaurants have now cut back on water use by waiting until the customer requests water instead of automatically providing it.

“You just never know. I see a lot of people I serve that don’t even drink the water I give them. They just want Pepsi or a drink from the bar. I think it’s easier for servers now anyway,” said Jennifer Lacee, a server and cocktail waitress at a Bakersfield restaurant.

SGA President Alex Dominguez said him and other SGA members know the importance of water conservation and plan to spread the word to students during Spring Fling.

“During Spring Fling week, we are doing a Water Rally 2.0 which will be a complete update on the new regulations and water issues,” Dominguez stated.

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