Wasting Water a Legal Obligation in Orange, CA

I recently came upon this article in the Los Angeles Times, which documents a court battle between a young couple and the city of Orange, CA.  The essence of the battle?  The couple have removed their water guzzling front lawn, which, apparently, contravenes a city ordinance which requires that all front yards be covered by at least 40% vegetation.

The article includes a photo of the couple’s yard, which admittedly isn’t the most attractive I’ve ever seen, but neither is it an eyesore.  They haven’t  littered it with carcasses of dead refrigerators, couches and Buicks, or with any other detritus, for that matter.  It’s clean, neat, and weed-free, albeit a bit sterile looking for my tastes.

But here’s the crux of the matter.  This is southern California.  It’s not like the area has an excess of fresh water.  Heaven knows they’ve been eyeballing Canadian rivers for some time now in anticipation of their fresh-water needs.  This is also a state which is at the forefront of environmental legislation when it comes to automotive emissions.  Now, granted, they don’t do much to actually reduce the amount people drive; they’re more inclined just to limit the emissions output of their choked freeways.

But still, one would expect that, at some point, local and state governments would be encouraged to conserve water.  Nevada knows it’s in a desert.  Why don’t Californians?  Xeriscaping anyone?

Perhaps this story hit a nerve for me because a number of years ago I wiped out my front lawn and replaced it with other forms of vegetation that didn’t require constant water and attention.  I’m biased, of course, but I think it looks better than the lawn did.  I’ve watered trees when I first planted them to get them established, and I might water them again once or twice a summer if conditions become particularly arid, but otherwise everything thrives on neglect.

This move, together with installing a front-loading wash machine and dual-flush toilets has reduced our water consumption drastically.  I know I live in a desert.  People of Orange, California, get with the program.   So do you.