Sustainable Works




>>Gardening with Native Plants - Rather than filling your home landscape with exotic plants from the local nursery or home center, why not plant species that should be in your landscape naturally? The idea of planting 'native plants' has received plenty of attention, especially in arid parts of the country. The approach has more to offer than just water savings, however. We'll talk about why growing plants that are native to your area can encourage healthier ecosystems, from insects to birds. Via Science Friday from NPR

In the News
>>Desalination plant clears final California hurdle - "The biggest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, north of San Diego, can begin construction by year's end after a six-year effort to win regulators' approval." "The company expects the plant to be operational by the first quarter of 2012."

>>Schwarzenegger proclaims statewide drought emergency - The declaration asks urban water users to increase conservation efforts and directs state agencies to cut back on landscape irrigation. Farms could benefit. Via LATimes.

>>California farms, vineyards in peril from warming, U.S. energy secretary warns - "Chu warned of water shortages plaguing the West and Upper Midwest and particularly dire consequences for California, his home state, the nation's leading agricultural producer. In a worst case, Chu said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture." Via Los Angeles Times

>>Heal the Bay Study Reveals State Water Board Inaction Allows Toxic Wastewater to Foul L.A. Since 2000 (PDF) The State Water Resources Control Board has allowed dischargers to spew millions of gallons of toxin-laden effluents into Southland water bodies with virtual impunity over the past eight years, according to a detailed study released on January 2009 by Heal the Bay. Via Heal the Bay

>>Toxic Pfiesteria prevalent in our waterways and a serious health threat - "Though the causes of Pfiesteria outbreaks are not fully understood, in several cases scientists have linked the problem to polluted run-off as one factor."

Calculate Your Water Footprint - From the food you eat to the clothes you wear, water is used to sustain many of our lifestyle choices. So choose either this One Minute Water Calculator or the water footprint calculator from to measure your water footprint.

Where Does Our Water Come From?

>>Where does Southern California’s water come from? - Detailed discussion of water sources and water projects.

>>Drought Monitor -
a synthesis of multiple indices and impacts, that represents a consensus of federal and academic scientists.

Watersheds and Urban Runoff
>>Freshwater Conservation - How We Protect Watersheds - Learn more about threats to healthy watersheds and what The Nature Conservancy is doing about those threats. Via The Nature Conservancy.

SMURRF - Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility

>>Los Angeles Urban Runoff - Runoff, which can occur in both wet and dry weather, usually receives no treatment before discharge.



In Santa Monica: Call the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability at 310-458-8945

In L.A.: Call 1-800-Dial DWP or email

>>City of Santa Monica Water Conservation Ordinance (

  • No watering of lawns or landscapes between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on any day.
  • No hosing down of sidewalks, driveways, patios, alleys, parking areas or other “hardscapes.”
  • No runoff is permitted from lawns and landscapes into streets, alleys, or gutters at any time.
  • Water must not be used to fill or maintain levels in decorative fountains, ponds, lakes or displays unless a recycling system is used.
  • Swimming pools must not be filled or emptied unless it is a first filling of a new pool, or necessary leak repair work is being performed.
  • Water leaks from exterior or interior plumbing must be repaired immediately.
  • No washing of vehicles of any kind except with a hand-held bucket or a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle.
  • Restaurants must serve water only upon request and post signage indicating this restriction.

>>LADWP Water Conservation Ordinance (

  • Using water to wash any hard surfaces such as sidewalks, walkways, driveways or parking areas;
  • Allowing runoff onto streets and gutters from excessive watering;
  • Irrigating landscaping between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.;
  • Permitting leaks from any pipe or fixture to go unrepaired;
  • Permitting watering during periods of rain;
  • Watering outdoors for more than 15 minutes per watering station, 10 minutes for other irrigation systems;
  • Allowing for the washing of a vehicle without using a hose with a self-closing, shut-off device;
  • Serving water to customers in eating establishments unless requested;
  • Using water to clean, fill or maintain decorative fountains unless the water is part of a recirculating system.
  • Permit large landscape areas to water without rain sensors that shut off irrigation systems
  • Install non-recirculating systems in new car wash and commercial laundry systems
  • Install single-pass cooling systems in new buildings
Ocean Pollution

>>Algalita Marine Research Foundation

Water Efficiency and Rebates
>>Flush Choice by Aqua Save - Water Saving Toilet Upgrade Kit - FLUSH CHOICE is a water saving dual flush retrofit toilet valve kit that converts 2 piece style toilets to a water conserving, money saving dual flush toilet: a small flush for liquid waste and a big flush for solid waste.

>>Walk this way - "Making the right choices to reduce your water footprint."

>>Santa Monica Water Efficiency Programs & Rebates - Water conservation rebates for Santa Monica water customers. Rebates available for high efficiency clothes washers and toilets. Also includes information on receiving a free home water assessment, the Sustainable Landscape Grant Program, and the Rain Harvesting Program.

>>LADWP WaterSmart Rebate Program - Water conservation rebates for LADWP residential customers. Rebates available for high efficiency clothes washers, toilets, and weather-based irrigation controllers.

>>LADWP Non-Residential Programs - Water conservation rebates for LADWP businesses & multi-family customers. Rebates available for high efficiency clothes washers, toilets, urinals, sprinklers, and weather-based irrigation controllers.

Water Filters
>>Water Filters: Green Buying Guide - Via Consumer Reports.

Rain Harvesting

>>L.A. Rainwater Harvesting Program - You may qualify for a FREE Rainwater Harvesting installation where you can save money on your water expenses and join your community in preserving the environment. By participating in this program you will be capturing rainwater directly on your property and then later using it for lawn irrigation.

>>River Action 'Retain The Rain' Calculator - "This fun, interactive program calculates stormwater savings when you enter the dimensions of your roof, yard, or office project."

>>RainBud Recycled Rain Barrel - Harvest the rain! An inch of rain falling on a thousand square feet of roof produces over 600 gallons of water.
600 Gallons! That’s water that could be keeping your garden alive, free water that will NOT come from ever-decreasing natural resources. Via

Rainwater as a Resource (PDF) - A Tree People report on three sites demonstrating sustainable stormwater management. B"y incorporating stormwater best management practices (BMPs) such as swales, retention grading, cisterns, infiltrators and strategically-planted trees in building and landscaping designs, a multitude of benefits can be realized, including: improved water quality; a decreased risk of flooding; a reduced need for water importation; heat-island effect mitigation; a reduction in contributions to global climate change; and an augmented supply of local groundwater. The newly published report Rainwater as a Resource shares the details of utilizing these concepts and sheds light on the many opportunities to implement the wide array of available technologies." Via Tree People.

>>Rain-catchment waterwalls coming to America - This L.A. Times article features waterwall, an Australian product designed to store rainwater from the roof as well as the sky. The company is restructuring its website and relocating to the United States so be on the look-out!

>>Imagine: Rain, rain, stored away. This L.A. Times article provides an clear overview of the various landscaping methods that you can use to harvest rain water. Via L.A. Times.

Tankless Water Heaters
>>Takagi USA - top-of-the-line tankless water heater company that has models that can heat up to 5 gal per Tankless Water Heaters minute.

>>GreenHomeGuide - great rundown of what to look for when buying a tankless water heater.

Water Wise Gardening
>> - FREE California Friendly Landscape & Gardening Classes: Online or in person. Residential classes are usually held weekly on consecutive Saturdays and weekday evenings.

>>Smart - Countywide Smart Gardening program has FREE composting and gardening workshops. They are an excellent resource and their workshops are lead by very knowledgeable instructors. Check their website for a list of upcoming scheduled workshops. Highly recommended!

>>Groundworks' Free Java Mulch - "Stop by five of our six Los Angeles locations, and take home a free bag of Java Mulch, spent coffee grinds-- packed in previously used coffee bags. Using Java Mulch in your garden saves landfill space while perking up your petunias!"

Garden Garden - Santa Monica's Environmental Programs Division demonstration garden comparison

>>Theodore Payne Foundation - promotes the understanding and preservation of California native flora

>>Free Mulch - "Bring your own shovel, bag or pick-up. Load up your own containers and take as much as you need. Available at eight locations throughout the Los Angeles area." View a list of locations and maps (PDF).

>>Plant Right - a voluntary, proactive program for the horticultural community to prevent invasive plant introductions through horticulture. PlantRight was designed by the steering committee of California Horticultural Invasives Prevention (Cal-HIP) partnership to communicate the need to transition away from invasive plants in the gardening and landscaping trade.

>>Weed Watch - invasive plants displace native vegetation and greatly reduce wildlife diversity. In addition, invasive plants fuel wildfires, degrade grazing land, contribute to soil erosion, clog streams and rivers, increase flooding, and have negative impacts on our local water supply.

>>Los Angeles Regional Invasive Ornamental Plant Guide - This Guide is produced and distributed by the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council for the primary purpose of educating landscape professionals and the general-public regarding the cultivation, selection, use and management of invasive plants in our local landscape.

>>California Invasive Plant Council - Across California, invasive plants damage wildlands. Invasive plants displace native plants and wildlife, increase wildfire and flood danger, consume valuable water, degrade recreational opportunities, and destroy productive range and timber lands. Cal-IPC works with land managers, researchers, concerned citizens, and policy makers to protect the state from invasive plants.

Waterless Car Wash Products
>>Lucky Earth


At 8:07 PM, Blogger Jean said...

A Word to the Wise. Should you decide to utilize a rain barrel for rainwater harvesting, remember that water in the barrel is only as clean as the gutter it drains from. I realize that cleaning rain gutters often is a dirty, nasty, job that none of us enjoy doing.

However, I invite you to visit our site at and see the newly invented gutter cleaning tool. This new gutter tool is a safer, cleaner, easier and faster method of gutter cleaning than any tool on the market today and ..... You "Do" Save Money, Time and Energy when using this tool. You save once by using this tool and secondly by having a much larger quantity of free flowing, cleaner water, to be used for multiple purposes.

Consider connecting several rain barrels together for collection of overflow from the first main barrel. Complete instructions to do this can also be found on line at

So, God Bless America and “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.”

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great article you have. Texas has been one of the better examples of a state that is grapsing the importance of their diminishing water supply. There are at least 4 Texas cities and one Texas county that are offering rebates and/or tax incentives for home owners who install rainwater harvesting systems. The internet is full of rainwater harvesting resources. My two top spots, (which is Brad Lancaster's site, a leading authority on RWH in the US) and (which has supplimental info, products, and info about the rebate programs)...I believe they have 2 Texas locations too.
Good luck!

At 5:40 AM, Anonymous steve the plumber said...

I think this is a really important issue, there is something here to build on.

Sustainable timber is a must for us.

At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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