America’s drought

June 30, 2015
Chuck Bowen
Editor's Notebook
Chuck Bowen

The drought in California isn’t unique to our friends in the Golden State, or even the Southwest. The drought that’s punishing so much of the country is America’s drought. And I don’t mean that the historic drop in precipitation our friends on the left coast are experiencing will make its way east.

What I mean is that the impact of this drought – the shift in attitudes toward turf, how we think about water in the landscape and the technology and applications that landscapers are using to deal with it – is being felt and going to be felt for years to come across the entire country.

This spring, California Governor Jerry Brown mandated that the state decrease its water consumption by 25 percent by June. KB Homes, one of the largest homebuilders in the country, has phased out most turf in its California front yards, opting instead for xeriscapes. In Texas, local builders broke ground on the country’s first subdivision that runs all of its irrigation on graywater.

All of this can be boggling for someone like me who lives in Ohio. We have plenty of water. Our problem is our inability to manage it adequately during the rainy season, and where to put all that snow during the winter. And while the weather in the West might not make it all the way to your headquarters, the trend is coming from California. This drought is going to make a lasting change on the entire landscape industry – and it’s mostly positive.

Something that’s missing in a lot of the coverage about how much water it takes to produce a single almond or a bottle of beer is the opportunity that this drought and watering restrictions present for the green industry. I don’t just mean the incentive programs that will pay you upward of $3 a square foot to rip out healthy turf. The water crisis has people across the country realizing they need to change the way their homes are landscaped. That means that California and the West are about to undergo the largest landscape renovation in the history of the state.

I’ve said for years that water management services are the place to be for anyone working in the green industry. Help your customers manage an increasingly scarce and increasingly expensive resource, and you’ll make yourself increasingly valuable. Because even as the West dries up, people’s interests and desires don’t change. They still want their homes to be landscaped, still want to entertain and enjoy the outside space at their home. What that looks like will have to change – it is changing as we speak – but the best person to help make that change is you.

– Chuck Bowen