Water Usage – A Homeowner Perspective

Following is an open email to the SOA Community Manager in response to the Association’s position on water saving ideas. Written by Joe Bower, Sierra Canyon homeowner.


Please let the Somersett Board and Finance Committee members know that I appreciate their looking at my previous email to them regarding water saving.
By copy of this open email to them, please let them know that while they depend on TMWA to “monitor and enforce watering per their set days and schedule” that that is NOT a reason for the Board to fail to execute the power given to it under Section 27 of Article IV of the Somersett CC&R’s which allows the Association to “promulgate use restrictions (e.g. allowed watering days, length of time watering occurs, etc.) on outdoor water use.” 
I believe the Board is failing its fiduciary and civic responsibilities by not promulgating water use restrictions of its own and instead leaving them up to an outside agency. The Board can make a resolution for irrigating members’ lots matching the same set day TMWA schedule. By having its own schedule the Association’s Violation Policy can more easily and quickly and in a more meaningful and effective manner, than can TMWA, bring violating owners into compliance thus encouraging owners’ water saving efforts.
By the Somersett  Board re-directing its attention to water saving on members’ lots, more immediate results can be achieved than “looking at test areas to retrofit the irrigation in the hopes to prevent runoff.” Also, runoff can be addressed at no cost by better scheduling the number of watering times and their length. Needless to say, the best way to prevent runoff is to remove turf from parkway center dividers and sides and put in xeriscape. 
The Boards of sub-associations may have stricter rules than the Somersett master association as long as they are not in conflict nor contradict. Thus I encourage the Sierra Canyon, where I live, Board to swiftly enact a watering day schedule of its own following TMWA’s.
Somersett has been fooling around with mainline irrigation problems for over ten years. Now is the time to stop using a landscape contractor to address these ongoing problems and bring in a company specializing in pipelines and water pressure. 
I well realize the PUD requirements/restrictions for private mow strips.  However, the Board can undertake an effort to have the PUD revised so that it will allow for more flexibility and options to address the needs of owners brought forth by the current and ongoing water shortage (not in existence nor anticipated at the time the PUD was written) and their desires to help ease the shortage by installing landscaping that needs no water at all, i.e. decorative rocks. 
It should be noted that while the Board keeps a stiff back on how to address the current water shortage problem, it fails to enforce its own Aesthetic Guideline “If the front yard is xeriscaped, approved junipers may be planted in the mow strip area,” by allowing junipers to be in mow strips where the front yard is not xeriscaped. Also, there are at least two private mow strips, if not more, currently made up entirely of decorative rocks. One of them being on the same street as a board member!

4 thoughts on “Water Usage – A Homeowner Perspective

  1. I agree there is a problem with the landscape contractors in Sierra Canyon and their setting of the water schedules that needs to be address by the BOD. Example Monday is a no water day but the sprinklers were running all through Sierra Canyon. The odd even schedule seems not to mean anything to the watering schedule in Sierra Canyon either. On the other side there are common areas in Sierra Canyon that are not getting watered at all and the grass is dead and some of the trees are dying. There seems to be no oversight on the contractors just like before the election there was much lip service on this issue but I see no action.

  2. To permit homeowners to incorporate no-water-at-all solutions (e.g., decorative rock & artificial turf) in their front yard and mow strip landscaping seems reasonable to me. However, I certainly don’t want the Association to get involved with my water usage rights, at least as long as I am paying the bill, Lets leave that to the TMWA and let the SOA focus on the Common Area. Perhaps they can get some best practices from Las Vegas Associations, some of which use the same management company as Somersett.

  3. Rights of owners should be respected at all times. What we are talking about here is only irrigating on the correct days per TMWA’s odd/even address system, plus no watering on any day between noon and 6pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day, not the amounts of water used. Over irrigating a la Governor Sandoval because one has the money to pay for it is the right of the customer until TMWA and/or City and/or County and/or State restricts it.

    The reason to have association boards match the TMWA irrigating day schedule is that abusers can more easily be brought into line. Nothing gets the attention of people than a fine which may be issued by an HOA when its rules are not followed. Last year TMWA spoke loudly, but carried a little stick, i.e. nothing was done to customers irrigating on the wrong days. Possibly the same for this year. HOA’s can carry a bigger stick.


    Lawns and Disorder, a Growing Menace By Joe Queenan
    Copied from the April 25, 2015 Wall Street Journal

    Many wondrous things have sprung from the human mind: penicillin, hovercraft, the hammered dulcimer, zero-coupon bonds. But when humankind strikes out, it strikes out in a big way.

    A case in point: the lawn.

    The lawn is arguably the most foolish, destructive, annoying entity on Earth. Lawns consume such a gigantic portion of California’s water usage that getting rid of them could single-handedly solve the drought problem. Well, maybe. Well-maintained, comely lawns – nurtured by noxious chemicals – destroy natural habitats and discourage larks and hummingbirds and magpies and snowy egrets from stopping by, and make neighbors’ lawns look ugly and stupid and proletarian.

    Lawns consume enormous amounts of manpower. That money could be better spent on higher education or tasty snacks. And because people often get home from work late in the evening, the sound of their mowers puncturing the stillness infuriates their neighbors, resulting in bawling infants, ruinous lawsuits and many, many homicides. This is also true of lawn mowers that puncture the primaveral stillness.

    Uncut lawns ruin a neighborhood’s image, because broken bottles and trash and corpses start to accumulate on them. Not taking care of one’s lawn is one of the most explicit antisocial activities a human being can engage in. Such negligence indicates that the homeowner is a slob. And the whole point of lawns in the first place was to get mankind to stop being slob.

    The history of the human lawn is reasonably straightforward. Early men cut down the high grasses so they could seethe saber-toothed tigers coming. They didn’t do it for aesthetic reasons – because early humans, as noted, were slobs. Occupants of feudal castles also chopped down the high grass, fearing that if it was left untended they would not realize that Birnam Wood had come to Dunsinane until it was too late.

    The point is, lawns originally had some social function: They helped ward off predators. But from that point on, lawns became purely ornamental. Rich people had lawns – more like pastures – because they wanted to show that they were so wealthy they didn’t need to grow crops on their land. But then the lower classes got into the act, because they thought a patch of green in front of their hovels would make their ugly daughters seem more marriageable.

    “It’s not a lawn,” they would tell suitors stopping by for stewed tea and moldy scones. “It’s a meadow.”

    Soon everyone and his brother had lawns, and most of them looked absolutely terrible by mid-August, because only farmers had a scythe to chop them down – and farmers, who didn’t believe in lawns, never lend out their scythes. Eventually the rotary lawn mower was invented. It is easily the most idiotic machine ever. Over the years, millions of people have derived immense pleasure from the flat iron, the cotton gin and the eight-track tape player. But no one ever got any fun of a rotary lawn mower.

    Most famous civilizations got along just fine without lawns. The Franks did not have lawns. The Franks did not have lawns. Neither did the Hittites. Socrates definitely did not have a lawn, nor did Sargon the Great. Interestingly enough, it was ornate, ostentatious lawns that helped bring about the French Revolution, because the sans-coluttes thought the aristocracy had planted all those lawns in Versailles just to make fun of their hideous, fallow fields.

    The lawn – like the ice box, the weekly newsmagazine or the harpsichord – is basically a useless vestige of a bygone era. Mankind would be a whole lot better if lawns had never been invented. They are wasteful, phony and ubiquitous. Let’s replace them with tarmac right now.

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