Irvine combats drought with “Brown is the New Green”

Irvine combats drought with Brown is the New Green

The Irvine Ranch Water District has begun using recycled water on public areas. (Zoe Berger)

Business Manager
The Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) has enacted its own initiatives to combat the drought, rolling out its new campaign “Brown is the New Green” throughout Irvine in order to “cut outdoor water usage in half.”
IRWD is in charge of all water consumed in Irvine and recommends conservation tactics such as not watering lawns, checking for leaks in pipes and sprinklers and filling swimming pools at lower levels. IRWD held a “Drought Survival Expo” on September 12 to better educate Irvine residents on how to save water. This Expo held workshops concerning fixing water leaks, tending native plants and using drip irrigation to save water.
Irvine’s indoor water allocation is 50 gallons per person per day. Water bills are calculated based upon how much water is used and whether the customer stayed within their allocation. If a customer uses more water than their allocation, the water is billed at increasingly higher tiers.
Furthermore, IRWD pioneered the use of purple pipes to indicate that recycled water is being used. Roughly 21% of IRWD’s service area’s water demands is met through recycled water, and is primarily dedicated to irrigation of public areas, agricultural crops and toilet flushing in commercial buildings. IRWD provides recycled water to all residents for free at a fill station located on Waterworks Way. For more information about this service, visit the IRWD website here.
Earlier this year, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency and established statewide mandates for the first time in Californian history, though these restrictions exclude the agriculture industry, which accounts for 80% of state water usage.
Californians so far have been doing well on complying with these mandates with water usage decreasing by 27.3% in June, exceeding the state mandate of 25% as listed in a government report. Households that fail to comply could be fined up to $10,000 a day for diverting more than 10 acre-feet of water as stated in the California Senate Bill 88.
With especially high temperatures this week in Southern California, many look to El Niño as a solution to California’s drought. El Niño, caused by warm Pacific waters, usually leads to incredibly wet and stormy winters across the United States. According to the Climate Prediction Center, El Niño has a 95% chance of occurring this winter, and could possibly be stronger than the 1997-1998 El Niño. However, with more water, El Niño also brings an increased chance of flooding, downed trees and mudslides due to the dry conditions caused by the heat.