Chuck Gibson

Jim May

between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am.

 Consider landscaping for reduced water consumption, succulents, drought-tolerant plants and flowers.

Note that according to CA House Bill AB 2100 HOA law series, HOA’s must allow these changes if for the purpose of water conservation, although certain HOA landscape plans are allowable to be enforced for aesthetic compliance purposes.

 Restrict flora growth by: eliminating fertilization, regular pruning, turf removal, water in intervals rather than continuously, and prioritize efforts on plants and trees which are big water users.

 Consider electronic irrigation control upgrades which are weather-based, have soil monitoring, drip versus continuous watering, and rotating versus stationary sprinklers.

Other hints for reductions inside the home include water-saving devices and procedures for bathrooms, toilets, dishwashers, and clothes washers.

There are rebates available for most of these household investments making these changes doubly worthwhile.

The details can be found on SMWD’s website at

Of most interest was the announcement of the "WaterSmart" program, a real-time measurement of individual residents’ water usages so that actual tracking can occur and be monitored by every resident.

Residents can find out how to sign up for this free service by contacting SMWD at, and are encouraged to have any questions answered or requests for assistance directed to SMWD Customer Service at 949-459-6420, or email at

We are being asked to concentrate on other low-hanging fruit; for example, 91% of SMWD accounts are with individual households which use 60% of the district’s water.

However, parks and common areas account for only 5% of the accounts but use an astounding 35% of the water.

So, quite a bit must be done in coordinating with HOA’s and municipal authorities.

Some of the practical, easy-to-implement ideas offered were:

 Follow the 50% irrigation reduction steps mentioned above.

 Water only at night

 No watering during rain storms

 No watering of driveways; use a hose nozzle on hoses.

However July indicated a brighter result of a 20% drop and indications are hopeful that more of our neighbors are starting to implement household water reduction plans which should continue to improve our efficiency.

There are many steps being taken, but the main emphasis to attendees was threefold:

 SMWD’s plans are instructive rather than harsh directives, and they intend to see every element of their plan pressed into action before having to even consider a more directive approach, if at all.

 Also, it was stressed that, in every way possible, SMWD wishes to become part of neighborhood educational forums; even parlor meetings among a few committed residents is welcomed.

 Actually, even on an individual household basis, residents are encouraged to call for assistance in setting their homes up for water reduction savings.

Landscaping uses 50% of the water in a household, and Nate pointed out that, if irrigation settings are cut in half, each home will be close to realizing its own goal; i.e., water three days a week versus seven days, cut the watering time down to only a few minutes, and only water 

By Jim May

Ladera resident and Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) Director Chuck Gibson coordinated a recent meeting of LARMAC neighborhood representatives with SMWD personnel who detailed their current plans and procedures for water conservation throughout its territory in South Orange County.

Chuck has recently been appointed to the Committee for the Association of California Water Agencies, which is responsible for 90% of the water deliveries to cities, farms, and businesses in California.

He also serves on a key Federal Affairs Committee and is on the Board of Directors for the Orange County – San Diego Region, and still finds time to serve as a very effective president of his home owners association in Atherton Glen.

Further, Chuck practices what he preaches; he recently had the landscape watering system plumbing at Atherton Glen Condo complex, of which he serves as its long-time president, changed to connect into Ladera’s recycled water source, the purple pipes that Ladera’s developers had the foresight to include underground for efficient irrigation.

SMWD technical representative Nate Adams introduced the overall theme entitled "Sustain blue water efficiency" and described its outreach to residents, steps being taken, and how SMWD can help our community to see them materialize at ground level in each and every neighborhood.

Nate noted that we are in the fourth year of a projected nine year drought and, worse yet, our last winter season yielded only 5% of the normal snowpack accumulation in the surrounding mountains, our water storage ‘bank account’ from which we draw during the other months.

Our normal yearly rainfall, including the snowpack, is 13 inches, but we have only been averaging four inches over the last 10 years.

This has prompted Governor Jerry Brown to levy an immediate 24% water usage reduction for all water districts. SMWD’s goal is 25% and Ladera Ranch had shown only slight progress through June at 12% less as compared to other water districts at 25%.


'Sustain Blue Water Efficiency' Plans Rolled Out

Ladera Must Do Better - Now & Forever


    The program also shows your water use month to month and year to year, and computes your goal with a 24% reduction.
    Finally, WaterSmart will suggest specific ways your family can save water. It’s a great tool that can involve your entire family in becoming more water efficient.
    Although the immediate pressure is the state’s mandates on local water districts, we all need to act.
    We don’t know if this is the fourth year of a four-year drought, or the fourth year of a 10-year drought.
    As the District becomes more efficient (even while we’re working on projects to bring in new supplies) customers need to remain aware of just how valuable our water is – and treat it accordingly.
    I hope you’ll join me in working with SMWD, your neighbors and your homeowners association to learn about – and implement – ways to save more at your home. Contacts us at for more.

By Charles T. Gibson, Director, Santa Margarita Water District
    Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) is looking for a hero in Ladera. Not just any hero, a water hero. We need quite a few of them, as a matter of fact.
    California was just entering the throes of drought when I was elected to the SMWD Board of Directors in 2012; since then, the drought situation has deteriorated rapidly.
    In January 2014, Governor Brown declared a “drought emergency” and asked residents to cut their water use by 20%.
    At the time, the state’s snowpack, a valuable source of water for us in Ladera and all of Southern California, was just 20% of normal. California’s rivers and reservoirs were below their record lows.
    Unfortunately, SMWD customers responded by reducing their water use by just 3%.
    We weren’t alone in that – so many communities failed to heed the Governor’s request that in April Gov. Brown signed an executive order requiring water districts to achieve a statewide 25% reduction in water use.
    The Governor wanted to ensure his order was taken seriously: districts that fail to reduce face fines of up to $10,000 a day.
    SMWD was ordered to cut 24%, about the same as most of our neighbors.
    But unlike many other water districts in Orange County, which are relying on fines or penalties to scare customers into meeting the state’s mandates, my fellow directors and I decided we would focus on education and outreach.
    It’s a tall order: imagine 25% of the houses in your neighborhood disappeared. That’s what we’re required to do, water-wise.
    And Ladera, like other SMWD customers, was pretty water-efficient to begin with.
    But South Orange County does not have a bubbling underground aquifer – all of our drinking water is imported from hundreds of miles away and other states.
    We know about half the water used in SMWD is used outdoors, so our campaign urges customers to reduce their outdoor use by half.
    So far, it’s working. SMWD’s cumulative use is 20% less than 2013.
    We still have a long way to go, however, since the Governor’s order is in effect through February 2016, and could be extended.
    We’re all in this together, but we need to do more. We need Water Heroes, especially in Ladera.
    Quite simply, Ladera is trailing other SMWD areas in water savings, many of which have achieved 30% or more in savings.
    Comparing June 2013 to June 2015, Ladera’s water use is down just about 12%.
    I know that our water-efficient homes and smaller yards don’t afford easy savings in many cases, but I am confident we can do more.
    SMWD is committed to helping. We are building a better water district through the drought, by accelerating projects that will increase the District’s use of recycled water.
    Today, about 15% of the water we use is recycled – safe for irrigation use on parkways and in parks and schoolyards.
    Projects now in the works – from new pipelines to a new reservoir – will increase that to 30%.
    But even if we got all of those projects online immediately, we’d still be far short of the state’s mandate – which is why we need some heroes.
    To help, SMWD this month began providing the “WaterSmart” program to all of our customers, for free.
    By registering at, you can see how your home’s water usage compares to similar-sized homes and

To Our Lips – Lake Mathews in Riverside (below) is the final destination of Colorado River water delivered 242 miles from Lake Havasu via Colorado River Aqueduct for distribution and treatment then delivery to various suppliers throughout Southern California including retailer SMWD. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.)

From Colorada River – Colorado River Aqueduct  (above) constructed in 1939 by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) delivers water from Lake Havasu, Arizona, to Lake Mathews near Riverside, then to other locations. Water stored at Lake Mathews goes to F.E. Weymouth Water Treatment Plant in La Verne and the Robert B. Diemer Pant in Yorba Linda. (Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.).