The Dry Garden: New Year/Water Year

Posted on | January 1, 2011 | No Comments

Saturday may mark the start of the 2011 calendar year, but the 2011 water year, the 12-month cycle used by hydrologists and water managers, began on Oct. 1.

Few Southern California water years have begun on such a dry note. Three months ago, a strengthening La Niña pattern in the Pacific suggested to climatologists that we were staring at a water year so potentially dry that it could make your voice rasp.

Then in December a weather system known as the Pineapple Express carried near-record rains through California. The upshot in Los Angeles County is that most places have already received half or more of the rain expected for the entire season. It’s reasonable to expect that when the 2011 water year ends Sept. 30, we will have reached or surpassed the regional average of about 16 inches, with numbers that are higher in the foothills and lower in the basin.

If we all kept gardens stocked with native plants equipped to survive on local rain, and our properties were all designed to prevent rain from running off into storm drains, this would be manna. But we don’t. As cheering as it was to see a new building ordinance passed in December calling for better water management in new construction, we in greater Los Angeles have a long way to go before local rainfall does much more than flow from the streets into the Pacific.

Click here to keep reading this week’s Dry Garden in the Los Angeles Times. Then come back and click here for a new January calendar of Dry Garden Events. Also watch Lisa Boone’s excellent Datebook column in the Los Angeles Times Home section for wide-ranging garden listings. For captions to the gallery of photos touching on some highlights of 2010, pass your cursor over the image. Finally, happy New Year!

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