Imagine 367 acres of open space providing habitat for innumerable birds and animals, some of them threatened species. None of the trees or brush is watered, but the native plants survive the long dry Southern California summers. With the exception of a small drinking trough fed by the slow drip from a faucet by the water tanks, water use on the site is zero (0) gallons per day, zero gallons per year. The native plants help stabilize the steep slopes and purify the air. That's the Madrona property today.
That all changes if the Madrona proposal is approved and built. Self-sustaining native vegetation would be ripped out and replaced by 162 luxury lots and 131 acres of water dependent landscape, much of it steep manufactured slopes. Instead of zero gallons of water, 240,600 gallons of water would be required each and every day to help non native plants survive on the compacted slopes and to reduce the extreme fire hazard associated with the ridgetop development. Is this recycled water? No, this is the scarce pure drinking water that everyone in California is supposed to conserve.
What does that mean to the average Brean and the other residents of Southern California?
Fire regulations require regular irrigation of all landscaping in high fire danger zones. The greater the drought, the higher the fire danger. Therefore, Madrona's slopes would get watered even during rationing that affects other residents.
240,600 gallons per day is hard to understand until you think that the project would use one of the site's giant water tanks full of water about every five days. Brea has spent millions constructing its large water storage capacity, 67.5 million gallons for all its people, businesses, and public use. But that's not enough for Madrona. Each year that project would demand 87,819,000 gallons for just 162 families.
Water is a scarce and precious resource. Recent state data count 2013 as the driest year statewide in over 90 years. San Francisco, received just 3.95 inches of rain, the smallest amount of precipitation since record keeping began 164 years ago. The state hydrologist, Arthur Hinojosa, just reported, "It has been dry across the state, and it has been remarkably dry where the population centers are and where the bulk of the water storage is." Rationing is very likely. But not for Madrona's slopes, not ever.
It is already December. We should be well into our rainy season, but we have received almost no rain. The State Water Agency's winter forecast calls for another very dry year, especially in Southern California. The hills are ripe for fire. Every water agency is urging people to conserve. Brea's residents are limited by ordinance to the hours and watering times they can use. Madrona? Of course not.
Water rates for homeowners are very high ($5.70 per unit) and will get even higher by January 2014. Brea has set four water tiers. No matter the lot size, Brea homeowners will pay $5.92 for every unit of water over 30 units (748 gallons per unit). Madrona will be flat rate charged just $3.27 per unit for unlimited amounts. Based on comparable rates and use, Madrona would be subsidized by the public in the amount of $310,958 each year.
Brea just used taxpayer money to pay Cal Domestic water company $3.5 million dollars to buy 225 acre feet of yearly water rights. Madrona would use all of that and more - 269.38 acre feet yearly.
Madrona will not build a community swimming pool or any other recreational facility for its residents, but homeowners are free to construct water-wasting pools for themselves.
Other new projects like Sendaro in Rancho Mission Viejo are planning to use recycled water for all their landscaping needs. They understand that drinking water should not be wasted on manufactured slopes. Not Madrona. It's pour on the drinking water.
If an affordable housing complex such as Brea's Birch Hills can earn the Platinum LEED award (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for its wise building and water use, why can't a development for the wealthy do better? If there were an award for poor planning, Madrona would surely earn it.
IT'S TIME TO GET MAD AT MADRONA. STOP THIS WASTEFUL PROJECT.
Vegetation growing with no use of Brea's pure water, instead the vegetation grows because of the rainfall.