The Widder Curry: More Water Cut-Backs Will Kill My Fruit Trees While New Housing Developments Are Allowed to Grow

by on October 21, 2021 · 6 comments

in California, Environment, Ocean Beach

California’s Drought Emergency Extended to San Diego County

By Judi Curry

Here we go again.  Another drought. Another curtailment of the use of water.  The Governor is asking people to cutback on water usage 15% over last year.

My question is what about those of us that cut back 15% last year and are still cutting back?  How much are we supposed to cut back before we will all be lined up at the trucks to fill buckets of water to cook, bathe, wash clothes and dishes with?

In actuality, just how much can we cutback and survive?  And, while I am at it – I noticed that even though I cut back enormously, my water bill kept going up, and up, and up.  I am using less water and paying more for it.

Let me tell you some of the cutbacks I am doing.

I wash all the clothes of my students and friend on every Wednesday. I make sure that the washing machine is packed full before during on the “wash” cycle.  I have 14  – no, make that 13 now – fruit trees that I only water twice a week for 5 minutes at a time in 4 segments.  I lost a lime tree earlier this year from lack of water.  I know that it is difficult to feel sorrow when you lose a tree, but this one was given to me on the day my husband died as a reminder of how much he liked to garden, and it is gone – like him.

Yes, I have a swimming pool but it also has a solar cover that retains most of the water that would evaporate if exposed to the air. At the most I put water in it every 5 weeks, and I run it no more than 15 minutes during that time.  I use much less water than if I had grass or other growing plants in the area.

I have grass in the back area of the yard, primarily because when I investigated putting in fake grass I was warned that it gets very hot and could burn my dog’s feet.  Since he spends a lot of time outdoors, that was just not feasible and, by the way, the cost was prohibitive.

My fruit trees suffered immensely this year also.  I only had 5 avocados on my Fuerte, when usually I have close to 50, which I give away; my apricot had 6 fruit; my apple tree yielded only 1 Fuji apple when usually I get over 100.  My Peach tree only had 22 on the tree this year when last year I had over 500 and a jam yield of 125 jars of jam.

Someone stole the only 3 avocados from the Haas tree, and the orange and lemon tree produced less than 10 pieces of fruit from each one.  The mango tree is doing fantastically well, but it does not need a lot of water and gets a lot of heat from where it is situated.  The other lime tree is loaded, and will help me get through the drought by allowing me to make dozens of margaritas! My veggies didn’t do so well this year either. I lost all of my tomato plants and the only thing growing well are the green onions.

So… if I need to reduce my water usage another 15% I might as well tear all of my trees out of the ground because they will end up dying anyway.  If you have priced produce in the market recently, you will find that the costs have skyrocketed, if you can even find the fruit/vegetables that you want.

So what is the solution?

Quite honestly, I do not know what the answer is on a wholesale level.  But as I drive around town I see watering being done on medians along the road; I see water running down the streets, particularly in the Pt. Loma area.

I see new housing all over the place, and I believe that sinks and faucets are being installed in those buildings so that they have access to water.  More housing equals more water. More water usage means less water consumption per person etc.  It’s a vicious circle.

When I lived in San Simeon/Cambria, only a  certain number of water permits were issued in a year.  Selling/buying a house did not necessarily mean that you got the water permit with it.  There was a long list of people waiting for those water permits.  I do not know if that is the same way now as it was back then, but it was very effective.  Perhaps it should be looked at in San Diego instead of just complaining there isn’t enough housing and then building houses when there isn’t any water.

In the meantime, it will be very difficult to cut back on my water usage again after doing it last year – and, as I recall – several times before then also.  And maybe, just maybe, the government should take a look at the permits they are issuing for new developments and decide if there will be enough water to flush the toilets in these new homes.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie October 21, 2021 at 10:22 am

One of the reasons the emergency has been extended to SD County is because our water usage as a county actually went up!


Mat Wahlstrom October 21, 2021 at 11:30 am

Perfect timing, Judi. Today the city issued notice that the Planning Commission will hold a hearing on 11/4 on ‘Climate Resilient SD,’ the city’s “proposed plan to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change, like extreme heat, wildfires, flooding, drought, and sea level rise. It is also a plan for how we can invest in our communities to make them safer, healthier, and more enjoyable while we are preparing for climate change,”

The word ‘water’ in the 640-word notice is conspicuous in its absence. Yes, we do need more housing, but we must ensure that it’s not luxury development that serves developers’ greed over our communities’ needs. Unless the city is banking on second homes and foreign-owned investments displacing residents to cut water demand?


sealintheSelkirks October 21, 2021 at 1:09 pm

Unfortunately this isn’t a ‘new’ drought, Judi, it’s just a continuation of the same drought of the last twenty years which is actually a complicated shift due to climate destabilization.

I have this link from 2016 but it has disappeared when I just looked for it though I have the article cut & saved so I am pasting the first paragraphs of it below this:

Southwest Enters ‘Drier Climate State’ Raising Specter Of Megadroughts
NOTE: Today, 16 Feb 2016, it is 88’F in LA and again 50’F here in NE =
Washington State

A new study finds that the semi-arid U.S. Southwest has begun to enter
the “drier climate state” that had been long-predicted from climate models. These findings match ones from September documenting an expansion of the entire world’s dry and semi-arid climate regions in recent decades because of human-caused climate change.

The new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
concludes that “The weather patterns that typically bring moisture to
the southwestern United States are becoming more rare, an indication
that the region is sliding into the drier climate state predicted by
global models.”

Anybody think the last 5 years things have gotten better? I understand what you are looking at Judy as the so-called ‘heat dome’ that my 50 yr old apple tree suffered through up here including an extremely early blooming in March when it should have been snowing and/or freezing. There were no honeybees out yet but a few big bumbles and yellow jackets were. End result is that I’ve got exactly 8 Jonathon apples that are all smaller than a tennis ball. And I’m on well water, it didn’t rain here for months but the tree was watered normally. But there was no way to stop the effects of 116’F temperatures in June/July blistering heat. I haven’t picked yet since I’ve just had the first couple of freezes but maybe they will be edible.

This lack of water isn’t going to go away I’m afraid. And there is no way the powers in San Diego are going to stop building. Growth is good, just ask any covid virus or cancer cell! Even though there is 10% more water in the atmosphere now we can’t count on it raining in the right place at the right time any longer. All that water is doing is creating these monster unleashed downpours that flood instead…

Big sigh. At least my tree didn’t die, yes? Good luck with yours.



judi October 21, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Great answer, Seal. Already looking for a new tree!


A. Ninteman October 27, 2021 at 8:08 am

One word everyone…desalination.
We need more desalination sites and our water problems are over.
I grew up in a Middle Eastern country where there was little rainfall (like here) and all the water was desalinated. It does taste a little different but it is good for everything for which it is needed. If we can only figure out offshore desal then the environmental impact would be nil.
We live on a water planet, let’s figure it out and stop relying on rainfall.


Pia in OB October 27, 2021 at 3:07 pm

Are you suggesting younger generations (our kids) get access to housing in San Diego if they win such “right” through a lottery system?


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