If, like me, you are a fan of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” and you are in the water industry, there is probably one aspect of the show that drives you crazy—the show’s hosts, who flip homes in Southern California, lay sod in the front and back yards of the homes they renovate.
But yesterday, in the midst of a “Flip or Flop” marathon, I caught an episode in which the hosts opted for drought-tolerant landscaping—a refreshing change for a show that takes place in drought-ridden California. The landscaping was a hit with prospective buyers who visited the home during an open house—and who were immediately able to identify the yard as drought tolerant. (They chose the drought-tolerant landscaping because the home was in what they described as a hip, young neighborhood—and although I could write pages about how water conservation is not just for the hip and young, I’ll save that for another editorial letter.)
The episode reinforces the point that terms like “drought tolerant” are not just industry lingo anymore. The general public has become more aware of water efficiency and conservation, and the many ways to achieve both. This is certainly thanks in no small part to the California drought—when the state introduced mandatory water restrictions in April 2015, the topics took center stage in the national news.
This increase in public knowledge goes further back than California’s current drought woes, as Klaus Reichardt points out in his article, “A Tale of Two Droughts” (page 20). In the article, he compares and contrasts California’s 1970s drought to today’s. When drought conditions hit the state in 1976, emergency actions had to be taken the following year to ensure residents had access to water. When drought conditions began again in 2012, it was not until 2015 that water restrictions were implemented. Even though both droughts were about the same level of severity, actions taken by the state and by local businesses and residents helped stretch water supplies for longer—despite the population nearly doubling between the 1970s and the 2000s.
Although great strides have been made in awareness of water supply and conservation issues, there is still plenty to be done. Events such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program’s Fix a Leak Week, which took place March 14 to 20 this year, help reinforce the idea that conserving water is not just for those affected by drought. This year’s campaign to “Be a Leak Detective” encouraged the public to find and fix leaks not only to save water, but also to save money on utility bills, showing people that saving water has both long-term environmental benefits, as well as short-term personal benefits—lessons that certainly could be incorporated when you speak to your clients about water efficiency and conservation issues.