HOAs Finding Creative Ways to Reduce Water Consumption While Maintaining Great Looking Communities

January 27, 2015

Considering California is experiencing one of the worst droughts on record, we thought it would be valuable to dedicate an article this month to this ongoing topic. To gain a deeper understanding of some of the most frequent challenges HOA’s face, and discover some recommendations for creative solutions, we had a candid conversation with one of Seabreeze Management’s landscape partners, John Hall, President of SpectrumCare Landscape. Here’s what we learned:

First, it’s important to be aware of what is currently happening in the state of California with regard to water and water conservation. The governor has passed down a mandate for 20% reduction in water-use, effectively immediately, which has HOAs rethinking their current water consumption strategies and finding cost-effective ways to comply.

How are progressive associations specifically dealing with this new and immediate water consumption requirement?

#1 – Progressive HOA’s are getting rid of turf whenever possible! This process can be challenging, considering grass looks nicer and adds to aesthetics of a community, but it is a huge water consumer. Since grass is made up of approximately 80% water and 90% clippings and accordingly requires significant amounts of water for proper maintenance, getting rid of turf will significantly reduce you Association’s water-use.
#2 – Many HOA’s are changing to water-wise landscaping, often using many more drought-tolerant plants and succulents that require much less water maintenance.
#3 – They are also moving to Smart Clocks or ET-based schedules, considering standalone clocks must be manually set. Smart Clocks can be changed remotely on a PC, Smartphone or Tablet. If a community does not have Smart Clock system, consider getting one right away since they can be easily managed and turned off (or on) as needed.
#5 – HOA’s are getting much more serious about installing drip irrigation or soaker systems and removing older sprinkler systems.
#6 – They are also updating outdated and old technology nozzles. Considering the type of nozzles used in older irrigation systems can be outdated, newer technology enables more effective water output and higher efficiency.
#7 – HOA’s are using more artificial grass. While this is often a last resort, this option may be worth considering as it’s aesthetically pleasing, requires no water usage, and can be maintained simply by using a vacuum or broom.

All of these options obviously require some outlay of dollars in the short run. However, reducing your water usage now will pay big dividends over time — resulting in lowering ongoing water bills and keeping your HOA in compliance with California’s water reduction mandate.

Other creative water reduction initiatives to consider:

Often times, HOAs find it hard to make any immediate water-conservation updates due to budget constraints. A great option to help off-set the immediate cost, however, is taking advantage of the new rebate programs available through Southern California local water districts.

For example, HOAs within the Irvine Ranch Water District can receive a $2.00 per square foot rebate when removing turf. Using a scenario of converting approximately one acre of grass, an HOA could receive an $87,120.00 rebate. Recently, one of our clients finished a turf-removal with great success by taking advantage of a local water district’s rebate program.

Water districts also have rebate programs for installing Smart Clocks. For example, Irvine Water District gives back $25 per station. If an HOA installs multiple controllers, it may cost $2,000 to buy the equipment, but ultimately they could get approximately $600 returned from the rebate.

By utilizing these helpful rebate programs, your HOA can conserve water, achieve lower water bills in the long-run and avoid having to strain budgets with immediate installation costs.