Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Flood or drought

It seems bizarre to be reading about the floods back home in the UK at the same time that an official drought has been recorded here in California. In Palm Springs, we have had no rain this winter at all. There has been no snow on the surrounding mountains, where there is usually a distinct white frosting and there will be no wild flowers this spring. I shall miss seeing the wild verbena and other colourful annuals that usually spring up so fast after the winter rains here.

After the last wet winter - but not this year!
Much of California's water is used by agriculture which would seem to be a valid use. We do need food! A huge amount is also used by golf courses. (update - I've  since read that its around 25% of the overall usage) Many of these are lush green, close-mown courses which are re-seeded twice a year and include huge open water hazards. The are quite simply water guzzlers, using a profligate amount of water.  A few courses have made the decision not to reseed in the autumn and to retain the summer grasses which brown over the winter. The course is still playable just not so pretty and uses far less water. Some local courses have made a commitment to reduce by 10% but this seems miniscule compared to their usage. Surely its not impossible to design a desert style course with areas of 'native rough', more sand hazards and just irrigate fairways and greens.

Most private gardens have an irrigation system of some sort as landscape plants just will not survive the summer heat without water. However many are poorly maintained and it is not uncommon to see water freely running down the road tp the nearest drain from a poorly maintained system. Really it is not surprising that there is a water crisis!

Amazingly we also have a huge lake called the Salton Sea, extending to over 500 square miles just a few miles from here. Its a huge inland lake, created by accident from flooding of the Colorado river in 1905. At one time it supported a thriving community with hotels, marinas and other resorts all linked to the water. However in recent years it has been declining, due mainly to ever increasing salinity. Numerous proposals have been made regarding its restoration but quite simply, there is currently no money so it continues to decline and stagnate. Water - what a controlling factor when we either have too much or too little!


  1. Too much here, too little there. Hopefully it will eventually balance out on both sides soon...

  2. It's ironic how the original golf courses in wetter-than-the-desert southwest Scotland were about smooth vegetation among all the rough. How far (downhill) we've come, with lakes and wall-to-wall turfgrass. Your comment on having native, unirrigated roughs is so true. The waste, even the bragging about water bills at social gatherings (disguised as complaining about water rates) is true...and the root of this is the mindset that could care less about conservation and appropriateness.


  3. Pity not to see the wild flowers this Spring.