Over the Hill

Paso Robles residents can soon add another day of watering

Starting Aug. 20, Paso Robles residents will be able to increase their outdoor watering from two days a week to three.
Starting Aug. 20, Paso Robles residents will be able to increase their outdoor watering from two days a week to three.

I’ll soon be allowed to water my landscaping three days per week. The present Paso Robles limit is two days. But on Tuesday, I noticed a new sentence on the city’s website. It said, “Note: The city’s mandatory watering schedule will change to three days per week beginning Aug. 20, 2016.”

So, Wednesday morning I called Christopher Alakel, the city’s water resources manager. He said the notice was correct. All Paso Robles water customers soon would get detailed notifications by mail. The city has received state approval to relax its watering restrictions, and the City Council voted to do so.

That’s encouraging. But I may still keep watering just twice a week. Nobody really knows if the drought is over. On the contrary, our Central Coast climate could become permanently arid. Isn’t the Arctic ice cap melting away? Aren’t sea levels rising around the world? Everything can change.

My lawns are long gone, both front and back. At first I tried to nurse them along with their very limited water rations. Lawn grass in Paso Robles is an exotic import. It needs unlimited water.

Lack of water has turned my lawns into patches of bare dirt and drought-tolerant weeds. I have finally faced the fact that green turf is an outdated extravagance, especially with today’s ever-climbing water rates.

But I can’t decide how to create a more presentable yard. These days, the usual procedure seems to be to lay a bed of gravel, red rock or bark. Then add some drought-tolerant shrubs and large ornamental rocks. Unfortunately, my front yard is a fairly steep hillside. I’m afraid a heavy rain would wash the red rock or bark off of the underlying sheets of plastic.

Anyhow, that’s my excuse. I haven’t really done anything except occasionally assault the weeds with my weed wacker. I also worry a lot about a big rain storm washing deep gullies in the dirt of my front hill.

I understand Paso Robles was permitted to increase its number of watering days because it demonstrated that it doesn’t have a water shortage despite the current drought.

Paso Robles has the established right to 6,488 acre-feet of water per year from Nacimiento Lake. That’s one of the main reasons Paso has an ample water supply. Its allocation of Nacimiento water is the largest held by any community in San Luis Obispo County. We Roblans have reason to feel water-secure.

Of course, we Paso Robles water customers must pay for that security. In 2012, if we used 325 gallons per day, we paid $32.50 per month. Today, that same amount of water costs $57.20 per month. That’s another reason I don’t want to plant a lawn.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.