City of Fresno seems to encourage brown lawns

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Water restrictions are already taking their toll on Fresno lawns. They are turning brown, which seems to be what the city wants.

A recent mailer from the city suggests yards be watered just enough to keep trees and shrubs alive, but let the lawns to brown. It reads, "If your lawn is brown... you're doing it right." But city spokesman Mark Standriff says the city is not advocating dead lawns.

Standriff explained, "We're saying we want people to kind of get used to the fact that you are going to see brown lawns, and that's okay."

But, Standriff says the city believes by following the two day a week watering restrictions the grass may brown, but not die. At the same time the city is planning to offer some drought relief to those who can haul their own water, because the city actually has too much. Every day 60 million gallons of treated wastewater is pumped into settling ponds, and allowed to sink back into the ground, and it's ready to overflow. Wastewater manager Steven Hogg says the city now wants to share that water with citizens.

Hogg explained, "The thought is because we have an excess of groundwater here that must be extracted we could provide that for our ratepayers in the community as a service."

The plan is to on June 1st first allow construction companies who need water for dust control to fill up here, then by July 1st, allow residents who can bring their own tanks and containers to fill up as well. It's not drinkable, not what they call potable water, but it's good for lawns.

Another way to avoid a brown lawn this summer is to get a new one. Replacing the most common Fescue lawns with Bermuda grass is keeping Sod suppliers busy. New subdivisions are planted with it and many homeowners are switching their sod. Bruce Cason of A-G Sodfarms says it's a reasonable way to save lawns and water.

"We're running 48 cents a square foot right now," said Cason. "So basically $480 dollars for a thousand square feet delivered to your home, and just basically that labor but you're are going to get that 25 to 40 percent water savings that's more than our governing bodies are asking for right now."

And if you can't afford a new lawn, switching to high efficiency sprinkler heads can cut water use on any lawn by 20 percent.

The city of Fresno offers rebates for high efficiency sprinklers, and also will pay 50 cents a square foot for homeowners who want to get rid of their grass turf entirely.

Information is available on the city website.

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