Watershed Approach to Sustainable Landscaping

Watershed Approach Training
Program Development & Implementation for Disadvantaged Communities

The San Joaquin Valley region of California has faced ongoing challenges with water supply and quality. In times of drought, these issues intensified and the effects disproportionately impacted those communities deemed disadvantaged. At the same time, while many residents across the state were taking advantage of a wave of state- and agency-sponsored rebate and incentive programs aimed at reducing outdoor water waste, participation by Valley residents remained low. This low uptake was not due to the community’s lack of interest, but rather a result of the up-front, out-of-pocket financial commitments often required to participate along with other cultural barriers.

In order to improve accessibility to outdoor water conservation programs and foster community resiliency, the California Water Efficiency Partnership (CalWEP) in collaboration with the Water Efficiency Trust and community-based non-profit Daily Acts, propose to launch the Watershed Approach to Sustainable Landscaping campaign for Valley residents. The project shall adapt the principles and design approach detailed within the APLD California Watershed Approach Handbook developed by the Green Gardens Group (G3) to address specific environmental and social needs of this region including: rainwater harvesting to protect investments in residential food gardens, green waste reduction, compost generation, heat island reductions and improved community health.

Rather than focus on education alone, which rarely suffices to influence behavior change, the project partners proposes a phased approach that will generate sustained impact. As such, this scope of work expands beyond hosting several one-off training events and is organized into four phases extending over a period of one year (see below). It begins with up-front community-based organizing to ensure that the program speaks to locals, meets their needs and embeds multi-benefit solutions into their community. This will entail outreach to community groups and leaders already working in key areas.

Phase 1: Community Organizing and Capacity Building
Phase 2: Community Partner Education & Listening Sessions
Phase 3: Demonstration Garden Installation
Phase 4: Watershed Approach Design Seminars (community members and landscape workforce)

The project team has contributed nearly $40,000 to fully fund Phases 1 and 2. A generous donation by the California Water Services Company in the amount of $20,00 will partially fund installation of a community demonstration garden. Additional contributions are being solicited to raise an additional $40,000 to fully fund this project work.