Sustainable Works


>>Gardening with Native Plants - Rather than filling your home landscape with exotic plants from the local nursery or home center, why not plant species that should be in your landscape naturally? The idea of planting 'native plants' has received plenty of attention, especially in arid parts of the country. The approach has more to offer than just water savings, however. We'll talk about why growing plants that are native to your area can encourage healthier ecosystems, from insects to birds. Via Science Friday from NPR.

>>"The Innovative Turn" shows us innovative rainwater and greywater systems, with many examples of various sized systems from homes to a whole sports stadium and the largest rainwater tank system in Europe

>>Transparency: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch - "By now, most of us are aware that there is a large patch of floating plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. What you may not know is that it’s not made up of plastic bags and empty bottles. It’s made up of billions of tiny pieces of plastic, and it’s basically invisible unless you’re floating in it. While this might seem better, it’s actually much worse for the environment—and for you." Via

>>Transparency: How Much Water Do You Use? - "As we become more and more aware that we may be using water at an unsustainable pace, the idea of water footprints—the amount of water an individual uses—is becoming more common. Water footprints can be hard to calculate, depending on how far up the chain of production you go, since everything you eat and buy used some water to produce (to feed cows for beef, for example, or to use in the factory that made your cell phone)." Via

In the News
>>Desalination plant clears final California hurdle - "The biggest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, north of San Diego, can begin construction by year's end after a six-year effort to win regulators' approval." "The company expects the plant to be operational by the first quarter of 2012."

Southern California Water Ordinances
>>City of Santa Monica Water Conservation Ordinance
  • No watering of lawns or landscapes between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on any day.
  • No hosing down of sidewalks, driveways, patios, alleys, parking areas or other “hardscapes.”
  • No runoff is permitted from lawns and landscapes into streets, alleys, or gutters at any time.
  • Water must not be used to fill or maintain levels in decorative fountains, ponds, lakes or displays unless a recycling system is used.
  • Swimming pools must not be filled or emptied unless it is a first filling of a new pool, or necessary leak repair work is being performed.
  • Water leaks from exterior or interior plumbing must be repaired immediately.
  • No washing of vehicles of any kind except with a hand-held bucket or a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle.
  • Restaurants must serve water only upon request and post signage indicating this restriction.
>>LADWP Water Conservation Ordinance
The following are prohibited:
  • Using water to wash any hard surfaces such as sidewalks, walkways, driveways or parking
  • Allowing runoff onto streets and gutters from excessive watering;
  • Irrigating landscaping between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.;
  • Permitting leaks from any pipe or fixture to go unrepaired;
  • Permitting watering during periods of rain;
  • Watering outdoors for more than 15 minutes per watering station, 10 minutes for other irrigation systems;
  • Allowing for the washing of a vehicle without using a hose with a self-closing, shut-off device;
  • Serving water to customers in eating establishments unless requested;
  • Using water to clean, fill or maintain decorative fountains unless the water is part of a recirculating system.
  • Permit large landscape areas to water without rain sensors that shut off irrigation systems
  • Install non-recirculating systems in new car wash and commercial laundry systems
  • Install single-pass cooling systems in new buildings
Report Water Waste
>>In Santa Monica: Call the City of Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment at (310) 458-8945
>>In Los Angeles: Call 1-800-Dial DWP or email

Calculate Your Water Footprint
From the food you eat to the clothes you wear, water is used to sustain many of our lifestyle choices. So choose either this One Minute Water Calculator or the water footprint calculator from to measure your water footprint.

Where Does Our Water Come From?

>>Where does Southern California’s water come from? - Detailed discussion of water sources and water projects.

>>Drought Monitor -
a synthesis of multiple indices and impacts, that represents a consensus of federal and academic scientists.

Watersheds and Urban Runoff

>>The suburban lawn: enemy of lakes, oceans, and rivers everywhere. New research shows that suburban gardens and lawns are a commonly-underestimated source of non-point pollution.

>> has great information for individuals who want to prevent stormwater pollution in order to keep LA clean and healthy. You can also follow them on Facebook

>>Freshwater Conservation - How We Protect Watersheds - Learn more about threats to healthy watersheds and what The Nature Conservancy is doing about those threats. Via The Nature Conservancy.

SMURRF - Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility

>>Los Angeles Urban Runoff - Runoff, which can occur in both wet and dry weather, usually receives no treatment before discharge.

Ocean Pollution

>>Algalita Marine Research Foundation

Water Efficiency and Rebates
>>Walk this way - "Making the right choices to reduce your water footprint."

>>Santa Monica Water Efficiency Programs & Rebates - Water conservation rebates for Santa Monica water customers. Rebates available for high efficiency clothes washers and toilets. Also includes information on receiving a free home water assessment, the Sustainable Landscape Grant Program, and the Rain Harvesting Program.

>>LADWP WaterSmart Rebate Program - Water conservation rebates for LADWP residential customers. Rebates available for high efficiency clothes washers, toilets, and weather-based irrigation controllers.

>>LADWP Non-Residential Programs - Water conservation rebates for LADWP businesses & multi-family customers. Rebates available for high efficiency clothes washers, toilets, urinals, sprinklers, and weather-based irrigation controllers.

Water Filters
>>Water Filters: Green Buying Guide - Via Consumer Reports.

Rain Harvesting

>>L.A. Rainwater Harvesting Program - You may qualify for a FREE Rainwater Harvesting installation where you can save money on your water expenses and join your community in preserving the environment. By participating in this program you will be capturing rainwater directly on your property and then later using it for lawn irrigation.

>>River Action 'Retain The Rain' Calculator - "This fun, interactive program calculates stormwater savings when you enter the dimensions of your roof, yard, or office project."

>>RainBud Recycled Rain Barrel - Harvest the rain! An inch of rain falling on a thousand square feet of roof produces over 600 gallons of water.
600 Gallons! That’s water that could be keeping your garden alive, free water that will NOT come from ever-decreasing natural resources. Via

>>Rain-catchment waterwalls coming to America - This L.A. Times article features waterwall, an Australian product designed to store rainwater from the roof as well as the sky. The company is restructuring its website and relocating to the United States so be on the look-out!

>>Imagine: Rain, rain, stored away. This L.A. Times article provides an clear overview of the various landscaping methods that you can use to harvest rain water. Via L.A. Times.

Tankless Water Heaters
>>Takagi USA - top-of-the-line tankless water heater company that has models that can heat up to 5 gal per Tankless Water Heaters minute.

>>GreenHomeGuide - great rundown of what to look for when buying a tankless water heater.

Water Wise Gardening
>> - FREE California Friendly Landscape & Gardening Classes: Online or in person. Residential classes are usually held weekly on consecutive Saturdays and weekday evenings.

>>Smart - Countywide Smart Gardening program has FREE composting and gardening workshops. They are an excellent resource and their workshops are lead by very knowledgeable instructors. Check their website for a list of upcoming scheduled workshops. Highly recommended!

>>Groundworks' Free Java Mulch - "Stop by five of our six Los Angeles locations, and take home a free bag of Java Mulch, spent coffee grinds-- packed in previously used coffee bags. Using Java Mulch in your garden saves landfill space while perking up your petunias!"

Garden Garden - Santa Monica's Environmental Programs Division demonstration garden comparison

>>Theodore Payne Foundation - promotes the understanding and preservation of California native flora

>>Free Mulch - "Bring your own shovel, bag or pick-up. Load up your own containers and take as much as you need. Available at eight locations throughout the Los Angeles area." View a list of locations and maps (PDF).

>>Plant Right - a voluntary, proactive program for the horticultural community to prevent invasive plant introductions through horticulture. PlantRight was designed by the steering committee of California Horticultural Invasives Prevention (Cal-HIP) partnership to communicate the need to transition away from invasive plants in the gardening and landscaping trade.

>>Los Angeles Regional Invasive Ornamental Plant Guide - This Guide is produced and distributed by the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council for the primary purpose of educating landscape professionals and the general-public regarding the cultivation, selection, use and management of invasive plants in our local landscape.


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