Although not-Anaheim specific, the drought affects Anaheim as much as anyplace else, and so we share with our readers this editorial submission from Mr. John W. Spring of Anaheim:
A Potentially Destructive Duo: El Niño + Artificial Turf
John W. Spring
State and local officials have encouraged taking drastic measures to save water, but there are potential and negative consequences when changing the landscape of homes from lawns and gardens to artificial turf. Using artificial turf may destabilize the land, present a potential legal liability, threaten the stability of adjoining real estate, and cause severe damage to existing main structures.
The Mediterranean arid and semiarid climate, soils, and landforms in southern California differ from the elements found in humid regions of the United States. When it rains here, hard rocks during dry and hot weather become mud-like substances lacking durability.
Almost all types of artificial turf have only one function: to provide a cosmetic substitute for real grass. Using cacti and sand as an alternative landscape may look like a miniature desert, but sand does not hold much moisture during a heavy rain. Succulents such as honeysuckle or ice plant improve the means to absorb moisture, but as a general rule, cactus cannot absorb sufficient moisture to prevent a heavy runoff or a direct downward percolation. A heavy rain can decompose the soil beneath a home’s concrete foundation, potentially causing severe damage to the main structure.
The slopes of most hills and mountains in southern California are more like cliffs or precipices. Arid and semiarid climate fashions a cutting edge to soils, rocks, and landforms because of different chemical and physical characteristics. Even the natural vegetation here is different. When artificial turf replaces landscapes, a substitution not yet established as a reliable means for protecting homes, homeowners may pay a huge restoration price for the amount of water saved.
Why have political leaders demanded such drastic cutbacks in the amount of water used, instead recommending an unvalidated alternative that potentially damages homes? Few politicians or academicians are down-to-earth persons. Too many decisions these days are based upon their affect on future political careers. When Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed to get use to “Brown lawns” and regard green grass as a thing of the past, his statement is based more on force than fact. The rainfall in California later this year will validate the governor’s endorsement of brown grass and draconian water rationing—or El Niño will damage the foundation of many homes with artificial turf throughout southern California.
A reading of Michael Salzman’s Primary Water, a book published in 1960, would provide Brown with a potential and long-term solution to California’s water crisis: Retrieve water from inside the crystalline rock strata of the Earth’s crust. Redirecting Brown’s attention is difficult because he is hell-bent on spending $100,000,000,000 of taxpayers’ dollars to build a bullet train that will likely be outdated by the year it is completed.