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Morgan Hill
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September 22, 2021

Letters to the editor: Measure your landscape irrigation needs

No more gigantic warehouses

Morgan Hill City Council (MHCC) passed an ordinance banning distribution centers. Then they approved Redwood Tech at 101 ([email protected]), with over 10 football fields of warehouse space with loading docks. A project of equal size, Butterfield Technology Park, was also approved, for a total of one million square feet of warehouse buildings with loading dock punch-outs awaiting fleets of trucks.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires MHCC to provide a project Environmental Impact Report for these two projects. MHCC produced a draft EIR for the previous proposal at the [email protected] site, but abandoned the EIR when it recommended a reduction in size  to 300,000 square feet. This is the reason that MHCC denied a citizen-backed appeal and defied CEQA, refusing to produce an EIR for either project. The appeal was backed by Morgan Hill Responsible Growth Coalition  (MHRGC), representing 3,500 residents who are concerned about MHCC bringing gigantic warehouses to Morgan HIll.

MHCC claimed that a plan-level EIR covers the requirement, but that argument has no legal or procedural basis in law, but is merely a scofflaw end-around on the environmental protections written into California law. 

A report by experts was submitted to MHCC detailing the egregious environmental impacts that [email protected] would cause, and making it clear that a project EIR was necessary and required by law. The full report can be found in the Agenda packet of the June 23, 2021 Morgan Hill City Council meeting, beginning at page 264. Here is a link to the Agenda packet: http://morganhillca.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=1&ID=2017&Inline=True

These are the experts who analyzed the project:

Adams, Broadwell, Joseph & Cardozo, 801 Gateway Boulevard, Suite 1000, South San Francisco 94080

– Kendra Hartmann, SWAPE – 2656 29th Street, Suite 201 Santa Monica, CA 90405:

– Matthew F. Hagemann, P.G., C.Hg., QSD, QSP

– Paul Rosenfeld, Ph.D., Smith Engineering and Management – 5311 Lowry Rd, Union City, CA 94587

– Daniel T. Smith, Jr., Wilson Ihrig – California Washington New York

– Deborah A. Jue

The trucks are lining up to roll over Morgan Hill out of gigantic warehouse developments that are not in the interest or desires of the citizens of the town. A citizen response will follow for Rich Constantine, John McKay, Yvonne Martinez Beltran, who voted to defy California state law and abrogated their responsibilities under CEQA. Currently, the movement to recall  Councillor McKay is underway, and there will be more to follow.

Russell Blalack

Morgan Hill

How much water does your landscape use? 

As the drought progresses, one of the important decisions is what to water, how to water and when to water. The focus is typically on lawns and the stopping or slowing of water flow. But how do you know how much water the irrigation system is using for both the lawn and other areas that are being watered by spray heads?

How to Calculate the amount of water that is being used: Count all of the sprinkler heads. There will typically be a range of throws—a throw is how far the water travels from the sprinkler head—some will throw water in a full circle, some in half-circles and some in quarter-circles. Each of the heads has a different amount of water that is sprayed. Look at the top of the sprinkler head and there will be a name such as Toro, Rainbird, Hunter etc. and a number that shows the type of head. 

I will use the Toro 570 as an example: Go online and look up Toro 570 and you will see that there are varying amounts of water being used expressed as gallons per minute (GPM) based on the nozzle type. The range is significant from half a gallon to 4.5 gallons per minute. Add up the number of sprinklers and multiply by the GPM per head. For example a small 12’ x 12’ lawn would most likely have 5 heads, 4 ¼’s and one full. The ¼ ‘s use 1.5 GPM and the full heads use 2.5 GPM, so that is 8.5 GPM total. 

If you have the water on a timer (controller) and the run time is 10 minutes, that is 85 gallons of water being used. If you reduce the time to 8 minutes you save 17 gallons. Over days and weeks, that can be a significant water savings. Even a decrease of a minute or two can save a lot of water. 

In contrast, if you were to change out the spray heads for everything except for the lawn, to drip, you can decrease your water usage even further by changing from 1-2 GPM to drip, which is calculated in gallons per hour (GPH). A spray head that was throwing 2 GPM, if left on for one hour, would be spraying 120 gallons of water, with a drip system that amount would be reduced per plant to 2 GPH, a 118 gallon savings.

It is really easy to do. You can just unscrew the spray head and add a screw-on Rainbird bubbler, or a drip emitter like a Pepco 4 or 8 emitter (the name for a drip head). You can look those up online. 

The benefit is not only will you save water, but because you are only irrigating the plant you want, you will decrease the number of the weeds you don’t want. And you can heavily mulch around the plants decreasing overall water needs. 

Again, the first step is to determine what type of sprinklers your current system has and how much water is being used. Only then can you determine the best and most efficient approach.

Lesley Miles, AIA, LEED AP

Architect and Horticulturist

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