Piedmont residents concerned with water conservation are looking for more places in town to plant sustainable gardens.
Piedmont has a reputation for being a bit of a water hog. Single-family households in the city use more than double the amount of water Berkeley households do—around 356 gallons of water per day, compared to Berkeley’s 171 gallons, according to 2009 figures from the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
Some members of grassroots environmental organization Piedmont Connect had suggested the front yard of the soon-to-open would be a good spot for the community to demonstrate its commitment to more water-conserving landscaping.
But at their meeting last week, the Park Commission decided that a lawn was a better solution for now as the arts center is in a hurry to open and plans to gather audiences on the grass for outdoor performances.
“I personally haven’t given up on the idea,” said Terry Smith, co-chair of Piedmont Connect. “[The land] could be a real showcase for sustainability.”
Smith said she's found plenty of interest in conservation projects, with more than 100 people participating in Connect's garden and landscaping group.
She suggested traffic circles and pocket parks could also be ideal for small-scale sustainable gardens in Piedmont.
Connect members will meet with city Park Program Manager Mark Feldkamp over the coming weeks to discuss possible options.
Feldkamp said Piedmont might be able to enhance its existing sustainable gardens. These include two native plant gardens—one at the bottom of Bushy Dell Creek in Piedmont Park, the other outside the community hall—and the garden at Piedmont Community Church, which showcases Mediterranean drought-tolerant plants.
While Feldkamp says it's no wonder that Piedmonters who spend a lot of money for homes with bigger yards use more water than their neighbors in Berkeley, he said the city is striving to be environmentally sensitive.
“We try to use the most efficient irrigation systems we can,” he said.
Sustainability is among the Park Commission's priorities, Feldkamp said, and he is open to suggestions for achieving that. But he stressed that there has to be a compromise.
“I’m all for doing this, but when you work for a local government you have to listen to everyone."