I hope that’s not too controversial. So, let’s talk about water and the lack of it.
People are letting their lawns die. This may show their concern for saving water, or it could reflect the lingering effects of the economic recession. Either way, the problem comes when we look at the trees there. Almost all of our street trees come originally from the eastern part of the United States where it rains maybe once a week, so the trees get lots of water during their summer growing season. But here in California, water comes in the winter when most trees are dormant. So, we have to water them in the summer.
If you let your lawn die, then you have to think about the effect on the trees in your yard. As I drive around Fairfield, I see a lot of trees dying along with the lawn. Danger sign: Are leaves dropping? Are you grumbling like, “Dang trees – always shedding leaves.” It could be that your tree is slowly dying.
So, I say again: Water your trees. Run the sprinklers for several hours several times in the summer. Or dribble water from your hose for several hours in four or five spots near the “drip line” of the tree several times in the summer. Of course, if your tree has reached groundwater, this isn’t necessary, but few trees in Fairfield have access to groundwater.
Trees give both streets and cities a certain character. Sacramento has thousands of trees planted consciously to look like an “urban forest.” Sacramento streets are invariably attractive to me. Fairfield’s original housing development (I think), the presidents streets, hide their ancient plain architecture of flat-topped roofs by having large street trees and shaded streets.
It’s a nice effect.
You won’t find the city government telling you to cut back water. No, Fairfield is known as a city with excellent water and lots and lots of it. Under the direction of our former water manager, Rick Wood, the city reached an agreement with the state Department of Water Resources that assured us our legal right to “waters of origin.” When the state water project began in the early 1950s, users in Northern California were assured that they had original claim to the water and would not be harmed by cutbacks in order to supply Southern California.
As the south drank more and more, however, we began to get nervous, hence the challenge.
Then more recently, when the state began cutbacks, we joined other Northern California cities in a suit to recognize our senior rights to Lake Oroville water. We got more water there, too. We have all the water we need for “full buildout.”
Fairfield touts its water as an attraction to lure businesses to our area. We have a “food and beverage group” as a result. You know – Anheuser-Busch, Jelly Belly, Nippon Industries, Frank-Lin Distillers Products, Calbee Harvest Snaps and more. (Have you purchased a snack treat from Calbee? They are totally unique. Get one at local supermarkets. The founder of Calbee is a Hiroshima survivor.)
The city demonstrates its water asset by never saying that we should cut back usage; that illustrates the size of our supply as nothing else would. Of course, if you want to do your bit to fight drought, go ahead. The state has asked people to stop wasting water in several ways. Read about it on our city’s website.
Fairfield has a drought but it doesn’t have a water shortage. So, water your trees.
Let’s talk more about water in a future column.
Jack Batson is a former member of the Fairfield City Council. Reach him at [email protected]