Orange County Coastkeeper Keeps a Wet Eye on the Drought Despite Downpour

With the skies opening up and drenching Orange County, you probably haven’t thought much about the drought.

Orange County Coastkeeper has.

Despite the repeated downpours—which, experts agree, won’t pull us out of California’s nagging drought—the Costa Mesa-based, water-protecting environmental group announced this week it is expanding its SmartScape program.

SmartScape refers to conserving water by replacing lawns with drought-tolerant landscapes. Coastkeeper is expanding its free service that assists property owners with their landscape transformation process to include locals for whom English is not their first language, according to the nonprofit.

“We are expanding our program to include a focus on large communities where English is not the primary language and may have missed rebates due to language barriers,” says Ray Hiemstra, Coastkeeper’s associate director of programs. “We will offer materials in Spanish and Vietnamese to make sure more residents take advantage of water-saving opportunities.”

To this end, Coastkeeper is working with the cities of Garden Grove and Anaheim to host neighborhood workshops, raise awareness at community events and provide drought-tolerant landscaping information in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

SmartScape assists property owners, landscaping contractors, businesses and residents conserve water, eliminate dry-weather runoff, reduce maintenance costs and reduce carbon emissions. The program covers all landscapes, from large-scale projects to single-family homes, according to Coastkeeper

For a great example of the varied landscapes the group helps install—or a nice place to just chill out—you simply must visit The Coastkeeper Garden that’s next to Santiago Canyon College in the hills of Orange. A placard will show a photo of a certain style of home—for instance, a Tudor—and surrounding it a real, unique, sustainable garden that fits that design.

“The garden exists as a tool to for property owners considering a SmartScape to see potential landscaping ideas in full display and teach important environmentally friendly gardening,” Coastkeeper explains.

Honestly, I highly recommend you check it out in person. For a sneak peek, visit

Oh, and click here for more on SmartScape.

Southern California Edison obviously has taken notice as Coastkeeper collaborated on the California Edison SmartScape Project “to convert three acres of conventional turf into a resource-efficient landscape designed to serve as a model for other Southern California Edison facilities, commercial spaces and residential parcels,” the group says of the two-year program.

The result has been reductions of 50 percent in maintenance costs, 48 percent in irrigation water use and 54 percent in carbon emissions.

Oh, and something that will resonate this week: the capture and mitigation of 100 percent of storm water onsite.

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