One of the sports fields at Herbert C. Green Middle School is green — the result of a partnership and some strategic water conservation.
The uneven, gopher hole-ridden upper field was due for refurbishing, but then the state issued a Stage 2 water alert and El Dorado Irrigation District sent out water reduction notices.
“Our upper field is used by both the school and the community,” said Mother Lode Union District Superintendent Marcy Guthrie. “We’ve been good stewards of our water usage, but we were concerned about the safety of people using the field. The field was becoming a hazard.”
The Sierra Gold Soccer Club League was concerned as well and came to MLUSD with a proposal. “The Soccer League wanted to donate money to refurbish the field and make it safe for the players,” said Andy Peters, chief business officer for MLUSD.
Sierra Gold donated $55,000 toward the $58,000 refurbishing project. “Wow, to be able to get the repairs we needed done on our field for only $3,000 was wonderful,” said Peters. “We are so appreciative of Sierra Gold’s assistance.”
Getting the money was one thing; getting the water in a drought year was something else.
“We met with Jim Pritchard, EID meter services supervisor, who was very helpful with our planning stages of this needed and important student/community safety project,” said Peters.
Even before the water alert, MLUSD had implemented water conservation measures over the past year, resulting in a 44 percent water reduction at Herbert Green. The district implemented the use of low-flow fixtures, water-saving practices and changes in the watering schedules.
“We also made adjustments at Indian Creek and ratcheted our use back, resulting in a 70-77 percent reduction,” said Peters. “We are committed to meeting or exceeding EID’s reduction of 30 percent.”
In conjunction with EID, MLUSD worked out a plan for providing the water to enable the new sod on the field to take root by strategically lowering the water use in other areas of the district.
“If you think of Mother Lode as a unit, then some parts of the unit had to give so we could use the water strategically,” said Guthrie.
Watering three times a day, every day for 14 days might have seemed excessive to neighbors watching their lawns dry up, but the strategic water use paid off.
“We watered three times every day, rotating different lines over a two-hour period,” said Peters.” Now we are back to watering only three times a week to maintain the sod in good condition.”
“The lower field at Herbert Green is pretty dry,”said Guthrie, “but we were able to solve our resurfacing issue and still meet the 30 percent reduction.”
Peters talked to the manager at Gold Country Retirement Community about the project before work began to let the neighbors know about a possible increase in noise and dust during the project. Some residents were concerned that watering was in violation of EID’s irrigation guidelines.
“It may have seemed that we were watering 24 hours a day, but we weren’t,” said Peters, “and now we are back at our window of usage.”
The district also plans to ask EID to perform a second water-savings audit to look at other ways it can save water.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.