“Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Rosa Fink makes this connection here…”

The article “Embracing Drought-resistant Landscaping Saves More Than Water” was published on March 16, 2016 by the San Antonio Current. Xeriscaping deals with water conservation in the hydrology domain. This article discusses the importance of xeriscaping, which is defined as creative and sustainable landscaping that focuses on conserving water (Xeriscape). This is incredibly important in drought-afflicted areas. Many people want to have turfgrass lawns in their yards but in many cases, this is not appropriate for the climate. A misconception is that the alternative is aesthetically unappealing but with planning and design, this is most certainly not the case. Using native plants, xeriscaping reduces outdoor water usage by 50-70% and also decreases the need for fertilizers (Eartheasy). Based on my engineering knowledge and personal experience, xeriscaping provides all the benefits described here. Xeriscaping also serves an education purpose because the person who is xeriscaping learns about native species and water conservation techniques. The article was very thorough at explaining why xeriscaping is a great alternative to grass. However, there could have been more metrics showing how much water is actually saved, how much less fertilizer is needed, etc.

 

In a broader context, xeriscaping primarily addresses societal concerns. This is rooted in the fact that without clean water, the human population would suffer. In the western United States, there is a major drought occurring and water conservation is more important than ever. A huge amount of water is being used to irrigate lawns. Almost half of this water is being lost to evaporation and the rest is used to water non-native turfgrass. Utilizing the native landscape not only conserves water but also benefits every other part of the ecosystem. According to the article “Assessing xeriscaping as a sustainable heat island mitigation approach for a desert city”, xeriscaping reduces water use and can also decrease temperatures in urban settings. This has a large impact on social issues because if people do not have access to basic needs such as clean water, there will be no progress in other areas such as poverty, education, health, etc. Water resources management deals a lot with access to clean water and how to distribute it. If we can implement water conservation methods in our own homes, there will be less problems further up the road. Xeriscaping is a prime example of this and works to resolve many environmental and greater social issues.

 

Images

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Figure 1. Example of xeriscape landscaping

 

References

 

Chow, W. T., & Brazel, A. J. Assessing xeriscaping as a sustainable heat island mitigation approach for a desert city. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360132311002411

 

Eartheasy. Retrieved from http://eartheasy.com/grow_xeriscape.htm

 

Reagan, M. Embracing Drought-resistant Landscaping Saves More Than Water. Retrieved from http://www.sacurrent.com/sanantonio/embracing-drought-resistant-landscaping-saves-more-than-water/Content?oid=2514159

 

Xeriscape. Retrieved from http://xeriscape.sustainablesources.com/

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