By Joseph Serna
26 April 2016
(Los Angeles Times) – The warning was stern and unequivocal: The days of unkempt, browning lawns in the gated community of Blackhawk were officially over.
“We believe that allowing the drought to negatively impact the landscaping at any Blackhawk home does a disservice to property values throughout the community,” the homeowners association announced. “We believe there is no longer any reason that all landscaping in the community cannot flourish as it once did.”
Starting on June 1, any of Blackhawk’s 2,000 homeowners who fail to maintain green lawns or install drought-tolerant landscaping will now risk fines or litigation.
With El Niño-fueled storms drowning out reminders that most of California remains in a state of severe drought, a growing number of communities and water associations are demanding an end to emergency water restrictions that were first imposed more than a year ago.
The outcry is particularly strong among those in the Northern California, where El Niño storms have hit hardest and filled reservoirs nearly to the brim.
“I have not been flushing my toilet, I’ve been taking Navy showers and putting my landscape at risk under the emergency circumstances,” said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Assn. of California Water Agencies, or ACWA. “But I don’t want to have to do that when we’re not in an emergency.”
Though local water officials say Blackhawk’s move is premature, and possibly violates a governor-backed emergency declaration to not penalize residents for failing to maintain a lush, green lawn, it is nonetheless something officials anticipated would eventually happen.
“The reality is that with the most recent rains and snowpack, [water storage] has really been uneven in parts of the state,” said George Kostyrko, spokesman for the State Water Resources Control Board. [more]