For The Answer
News Weekly Article
In late January, the San Antonio City Council passed the Water Conservation Ordinance. The new ordinance includes 16 provisions, most of which will go into effect on January 1, 2006.
One provision that goes into effect this month is the requirement that all charity car washes need to be held at car washes rather than a parking lot at a school or retail store. The advantage for the environment, of course, is that the runoff water is captured and does not enter the storm sewer to pollute area streams. The charity car wash requirements are good for charities as well as the environment. The groups make more money at car washes than they do at parking lots. There are several options at car washes. The youth or other groups can sell car wash tickets for a cut of the proceeds, the car wash will designate a bay to the charity, or the car wash can allocate a portion of the day’s proceeds to the charity. The last two options are most successful when the youth are on site with their signs and enthusiasm.
If your charity is planning a charity car wash, contact your local car wash at least two weeks ahead of time. A list of certified car washes is available on the SAWS website. To receive the “Certified” status, car washes must meet ambitious water conservation and quality standards. They must also allow at least four charity car washes at their facility. Call Ruby (704-7382) at SAWS if you have had trouble finding a site for your charity car wash. Lowe’s told the Conservation Department that they also will be carrying the wafer type rain sensor.
Another important provision in the Water Conservation Ordinance is the requirement that all in-ground irrigation systems that have a timer must have a rain sensor by January 1, 2006. The rain sensor stops the system from sprinkling during rainstorms. They are inexpensive and easy to put on the system. Rain sensors retail for $30-$50 and can be professionally installed for $50-$75 more.
SAWS will rebate one half of the costs of buying and connecting certain rain sensors for SAWS customers up to $50. The wafer type sensors seem to be superior to the cup type. SAWS rebates brands listed on the website (www.saws.org, click to “Conservation”). The wafer type rain sensors are available at at least three retailers with 6 locations: AMC Industries Inc., Longhorn Irrigation Supply Company and Ewing Irrigation and Industrial Products.
Information about the Ordinance and other water conservation topics will be available at the Spring Bloom Giveaway events today and next Saturday. From 9-noon today, myself and the Garden Volunteers of South Texas will be at the Quarry in front of Whole Foods Market handing out information and a free blooming xeriscape plant for every individual over 14 years old. The plants from which you can select this year (as long as they last!) include dwarf Ruellia, Mexican bush sage, mealy blue sage, lantana and Texas Betony. One thousand of the plants in 3-inch containers will be available at each Spring Bloom Giveaway site. SAWS and the San Antonio River Authority share the cost of the plants. In addition to co-sponsoring the Spring Bloom Giveaway this Saturday, Whole Foods is dedicating a portion of its sales receipts on a day later this month to help fund Earth Day.
Next Saturday, March 19th, we will have a second Spring Bloom Giveaway event at the Plaza Guadalupe at 1327 Guadalupe St. (Guadalupe and Brazos west of downtown).
All of the plants offered at Spring Bloom Giveaway prosper in dry weather. The dwarf Ruellia and the spreading lavender lantana have some shade tolerance. They are both good groundcovers. The Mexican bush sage makes a plant 5 feet tall. The blooms make good cut flowers. Mealy blue sage has silver blue foliage and makes a smaller plant (2 ft). Both salvias bloom all summer to late fall. The flowers are favorite hummingbird and butterfly nectar sources. Every winter, the salvias die back to the roots. Texas Betony makes a mounding plant with red flowers about 1 foot tall. Use it as a low-growing specimen in sun or partial sun in perennial borders. The plants offered by Spring Bloom Giveaway are just a few representatives of the huge palette of low water-use plants that enable us to have color 12 months of the year in San Antonio without wasting water.