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Mountain House Considers Slashing All Landscaping Water In Summer Amid Drought

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MOUNTAIN HOUSE (CBS13) — The San Joaquin County community of Mountain House recently grew out of its “ghost town” title bestowed on it during the housing market crash, but now homeowners fear living in a different type of desolation: a community with dead or brown plants.

The Mountain House Community Services District is considering cutting all landscaping water this summer to conserve in the state’s drought.

“Some of the landscaping that was due to be recycled, we’re going to turn the water off, so it’s going to die out and we’ll be digging it out as that happens,” said Mountain House Community Services District general manager Jan McClintock, who said homeowners may have to turn off their sprinklers. “We’re looking at curtailing landscaping water outside the home.”

The first homeowners came into Mountain House in 2003, but the county land had pre-1914 water rights, which protected it from state mandated water restrictions. Mountain House, which doesn’t have well water and only gets surface water from a canal, self-imposed irrigation restrictions earlier this year to do its part in conserving in the drought.

Four weeks ago, the state said it may reconsider the pre-1914 water rights in this long drought.

Homeowners worry about the cost of conservation.

“It’s very hard to replace lawns,” said homeowner Jeff Watkins. “We had to replace our backyard when we moved in and replanted it with sod which is real expensive.”

Watkins moved to Mountain House from Arizona and hopes it keeps its green surroundings.

“We lived in Arizona and everything was hard-scape or zero-scape,” said Watkins. “There wasn’t much grass.”

Community leaders said an option is to replace the dead landscape with hot weather plants, but not the desert variety. McClintock said there are plants native to the valley the community is looking to use.

“If you want that look of green carpet, you can use plants that have a stem and grow outward from the stem, as opposed to grass, which you need to water all over the place,” said McClintock.

The Mountain House Community Services District will discuss the water restrictions at its June 25 meeting.

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