Gary Horton | SCV Must Be Pro-Water Choice, Pro-Landscape

Gary Horton

California is experiencing a long and serious drought. You don’t have to believe in climate change or global warming or any other culture war trigger words to know that it’s hot out there and getting hotter by the day as we approach our dreaded summer months. 

The last couple of years have seen temperatures as high as 117 – and we dread what this year brings. 

It didn’t always used to be this way. I remember rainy winters when rain lasted for weeks. Streets in the Valley flooded over the curbs with rainwater. Snow in the Santa Clarita Valley, rain pouring down like broken shower heads – and summers that always got hot – but 117 degrees? No way. 

For now, those days are gone, our local climate is in drought, and climate scientists believe California and much of the West is in for a long-haul water shortfall for many years ahead. 

Adding to our water availability problem is a threefold population growth over the past 60 years and the infrastructure we built back then is tapped out and overstressed today. 

While it’s true we can engineer our way out of this water delivery shortage, our politicians have punted time and again, fearing the wrath of fringe elements ranging from vast agricultural water-suckers to tree huggers bent on punishing folks who love lawns and gardens. 

So here we are, stuck with an acute water availability problem, exacerbated by a government missing in action. 

Locally, our SCV Water has handled this far better than most agencies. We get our water from multiple sources — but still, during this crisis year, they are prudently requiring a 20% water use cutback. 

But it’s not SCV Water’s 20% required cutback that’s kinked my hose. It’s HOW they’ve mandated the cutback. 

Per the SCV Water website, landscape watering is now restricted to but three days per week, with only 10 minutes TOTAL watering per day. 

Odd-numbered houses water on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while even numbered homes water on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 


I understand the 20% required rollback. What I don’t understand is why a water board would purposefully mandate the destruction of hundreds of millions, even billions of dollars of landscape infrastructure in our beautiful community. 

I own a large, established landscape company. I know my stuff in this arena, and can say with confidence that if SCV residents follow these new rules, all our grass, all our flowers, most of our shrubs, and some of our trees in the SCV will certainly die this summer. 

Dead and gone. Forever dead. 

Your beautiful yard? Trash. Our gorgeous streets? Think tumbleweeds. All the money we’ve spent building a gorgeous community we love? That investment will be utterly ruined, destroyed, all due to God-knows-what-logic that came up with these convoluted and destructive rules. 

Yes, we can, and we must cut back 20% of our water usage. Fine, let’s do it. But why mandate we do it so destructively? 

Sometimes it seems bureaucrats would prefer we suffer for our landscape sins as much as actually get our water use down. That, as we live in a subtropical desert, we never had the right of attractive landscapes in the first place and now’s the perfect time to punish us. 

Well, to these I say, “Kill your own quality of life – but don’t kill mine. Or my neighbor’s. Or our city’s.” 

SCV Water: Don’t abort our landscaping! 

Instead of taking away our rights and mandating what we water and when and how long, let us choose. Let’s be “Pro-Water Choice.” 

Instead of having neighbors ratting out fellow neighbors or establishing water police issuing $500 fines – just mandate the 20% reduction HOWEVER WE CHOOSE TO REDUCE, and have your computers review our water bills to assure reduction compliance. Monitor our water bills, not how we use the water we buy. 

By example, some will turn the shower off when lathering up. Some will put bricks in their toilet tanks. Some will (finally) turn off the sink when brushing. And some may choose to ALTER their landscapes, eliminating some grass or sprucing up irrigation systems to achieve a 20% reduction. Some may do a little of everything. 

There are so many ways to skin our water use cat to get to 20%. Why on parched earth do we need an agency to micro-manage our water reduction choices to the immediate and assured death of our landscapes and quality of life? 

I believe in a 20% reduction. It’s prudent. But I’m also “Pro-Choice” on how each one of us chooses to reduce. And I’m “Pro-Life” on keeping our green living things – alive. 

To the SCV Water folks – please reconsider your mandates. They are financially, aesthetically and life-quality destructive and counter-productive. Change course now, and simply require 20% reduction, and let the users decide what water to lose. 

Really, SCV Water, what’s it matter to you how we choose to lose? 

We can all be “pro-water choice” and “pro-landscape life” while we together reduce water use 20%, as wisely required. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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