How water wise are you?


At our last RSF Association board meeting, Mike Bardin, general manager of the Santa Fe Irrigation District (SFID), spoke to us about the drought crisis and potential ways we can all work to conserve water. Mike explained that the SFID is taking a variety of actions to increase water conservation by residents and to improve the water supply for residents.

SFID recently instituted a new landscape efficiency program that provides a detailed review of individual properties. Along with the review, the property owners are given a thorough list of suggestions regarding how they can conserve more water on their specific property. Completely free to the property owners, this service is called the “WaterSmart Checkup.”

Over the past few years, like most RSF residents, my husband and I, working with our landscaper, have been very conscientious in seeking ways to conserve water. In general, water used to irrigate landscape composes 85 percent of total water use in a RSF residential property, and, therefore, irrigation is where our focus has been. We have reduced our water consumption significantly over the past three years. Nevertheless, we thought the SFID’s offer of a free review was an offer we could not pass up. We went to the SFID website and applied for the WaterSmart Checkup.

Within a week or so, the consultant visited our property, and surveyed the house and all the landscaping. He thoroughly reviewed our irrigation system, down to the last sprinkler head. With all this information, his own observations and historical data on our water use, the consultant prepared a report for us in about two weeks.

The report provided a site description that gave detailed measurements of irrigated turf and shrub areas and listed all the specific components of our irrigation system. The report also acknowledged all the actions taken to date by our landscaper and us.

The report went on to compare our average historical water consumption for the past four years with target water consumption for our property. The monthly target numbers were calculated using data gathered from California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS).

The bottom line was — even though we had already done a good job of reducing consumption — we still exceeded the total annual CIMIS target level. Not surprisingly, most of the overage occurred during the period of July through October.

The good news is that the consultant offered some very specific suggestions to improve our water usage via improved management techniques:

• Install an upgraded rain sensor to our controller.

• Monitor the meter on a weekly or semi-weekly basis.

• Install a separate meter to monitor just the irrigation water.

• Keep up with preventive maintenance such as replacing old irrigation valve diaphragms, defective nozzles, etc.

We have already put in place these suggestions. And, of course, we continue to reduce areas of turf. The consultant will work with our landscaper for the next full year to fine-tune our water management program.

This was an extremely worthwhile exercise for us. We learned a lot and are looking forward to realizing additional reductions in our water consumption.

If you are interested in participating in the SFID’s program, go to Go to “Conservation” then “Residential” then “Residential Survey.” Don’t waste time, though. The funding for the consultant is limited. If you have questions, contact Jessica Parks at SFID at

Also, one word on our upcoming budget mailing. As I have written before, our new manager, Bill Overton, has been working hard with staff to find managerial and financial efficiencies for our budget. In the last week, Bill and our new controller, Don May, have been preparing the final budget for approval by the Finance Committee and the RSF Association board.

On May 1, the staff will be preparing the budget to be mailed to you as required by the Davis-Stirling Act (the California law for HOAs) and by our own bylaws. Bill and Don made a concerted effort to streamline the budget format for our mailing. What you will receive this year is a document that is half the size of the old one, more accurate and fully compliant with the law.

Many thanks to Bill, Don and the whole staff that contributed to the budget process this year. I hope you will be as impressed as I have been with the new mailed version. Let me know what you think after you receive it.