Plumb wrong

Posted on | May 12, 2010 | 2 Comments

Thank you to Matt Heberger of for sharing this gem off a hydrozone graphic, which he spotted as he opened up his latest water bill from the East Bay Municipal Utility District. Go to his post “Earth to East Bay MUD: Are you stupid, clueless or what?” to see him explain climate zones to the hydrozone guys, then offer alternate (better) schematics. The coup de grass is when he refers to recent water ordinances that show the East Bay MUD schematic out of compliance.

While East Bay MUD is clearly (and very possibly passively) promoting wasteful landscaping, it could be that its hydrozone web page is merely mis-categorized under “conservation tips.” Nowhere in the text on the web version does it pretend to conservation value. Rather, it’s illustrating the concept of irrigation zones, mainly for turf.

And here’s the weird part: The irrigation zones in the schematic are wrong for any type of landscape, conservative or wasteful. A random generator could have placed the plants better.

Let’s start with the band of “high-water flowers” next to the house. This is exactly where you want heavy irrigation provided that you also want the foundations to rot.

Heberger’s got this covered over on, but for echo value, allow me to demand: Why would a district that is running a rebate program to rip out lawn illustrate its hydrozones schematic with turf front and back? The front use of grass as a default ground cover around the driveway is the perfect set-up to create storm water run-off. Does East Bay MUD mean to promote that?

The lawn-locking of three token “low-water native plants” in the far corner of the back yard was unnecessary, other than to show how to keep it inconspicuous as the natives die from passive irrigation from the lawn sprinklers.

Finally, there is the “shrub zone” illustrated along the sidewalk, where pruning them will be a chore and failure to prune a controversy.


2 Responses to “Plumb wrong”

  1. Georgia
    May 13th, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    It’s like the really bad movie that’s so bad it’s funny except that the repercussions here are significant.

    That said, I am surprised that the hydrozone graphic was produced by EBMUD. I own a copy of “Water-Conserving Plants & Landscapes for the Bay Area” published by EBMUD.

  2. EmilyGreen
    May 13th, 2010 @ 11:31 am

    I was surprised too and I suspect that this graphic was commissioned/done by someone who clearly didn’t understand the subject of efficient irrigation or the way it fit into EBMUD’s overarching policy. I almost feel for the person responsible, but it’s a big almost. This schematic betrays such utter ignorance of what should be the agency’s collective voice on the role of landscape reform in water conservation that he/she/or they need a kick in the pants. It also looks like the agency decided to save money on using anyone familiar with irrigation or landscaping, one of those savings that keeps on taking…

Leave a Reply

  • After the lawn

  • As you were saying: Comments

  • As I was saying: Recent posts

  • Garden blogs

  • Contact

    Emily Green by e-mail at [at]
  • Categories