The world is endowed with many important natural resources

The world is endowed with many important natural resources. However, water emerges at the top as the most important natural resource human beings have for simple reason that it supports life. Climate changes and dynamic ways of life of human beings on the planet have varied patterns of use and consumption of water.

Additionally, there has been an irreversible alteration of the environment that has directly impacted on the planets water situation. Many water catchment areas and water bodies on the planet have been destroyed and left in desperate situations.

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The result therefore has been a water stressed planet with many areas experiencing acute water shortages barely enough to cover respective population commercial and domestic consumption needs1.

One of the most water dependent domestic uses is gardening and lawn care. In the US for instance, it accounts for most of the seasonal increase in water consumption in numerous places. An average US family consumes approximately twenty-six gallons of water every day. The entire nation consumes approximately twenty six billion gallons of water every day2.

Out of the above daily consumption, over 7 billion gallons are devoted for use in outdoor activities such as gardening and landscaping. According to US Environmental Protection Agency, a lawn setting in a suburban place in the US uses over ten thousand gallons of water every year.

One of the most enduring but misplaced notions has always been that green magnificent lawns are only achievable through extensive water use alongside other practices such as fertilization. Many environmentalists have however argued and proved that magnificent lawns and gardens are achievable with the employment of water conserving landscaping techniques.

The techniques employed in this area use terms such as waterwise and waterlow depending on their underpinning philosophy. To consolidate the water conserving landscaping approaches, the concept of Xeriscape landscaping was developed.

Since its coinage and copyrighting in Denver in 1981, Xeriscaping has become the official description of all the methods and approaches used by authorities and individuals to pursue water efficient landscaping practices. There have been many initiatives formulated at all levels of government in the US to promote xeriscaping for the sole purpose of encouraging responsible water use.

This paper will therefore examine the efforts and strategies put forward by the authorities in promoting xeriscaping in the US3. The analysis will look at the nature of the efforts i.e. their status and how they are implemented.

The analysis will be carried out within the framework of federal, state and local governments and the policies that they have laid down to promote xeriscaping and efficient water use. However, for purposes of better understanding, there will be a brief look at what xeriscaping is.

The Denver water department coined the word xeriscaping in 1981. The main purpose was to highlight the importance of water efficient landscaping. The word is derives from the word Xeros Greek for dry and landscape. To fulfill its core purpose of promoting water efficient landscaping, Xeriscaping operates on seven principles and eight fundamentals that promote waterwise landscaping.

The seven principles include good planning and design, mulching, efficient irrigation, continuous study and analysis and improvement, good plant selection and . The fundamentals encourage wise irrigation scheduling, provision of regular maintainace and extensive use of mulching.

Xeriscaping Efforts by authorities in the US
Some environmentalists assert that the water efficient landscaping techniques can be used by local, tribal and state governments as well as companies and businesses to physically improve their properties for purposes of reducing long-term maintainace costs and the creation of environmental friendly landscapes.

In the United Sates, the federal, state and local governments and water districts throughout the country have since the 80s promoted and supported xeriscaping efforts. Some of the initiatives implemented by these authorities are mandatory while others are incentive based to encourage large adoption of the practices.

The initiatives and efforts have always encouraged people to create low water demanding and drought resistant landscapes. Generally, there have not been any major laws directly concerning xeriscaping in the US4. Most of the efforts that are in place right work within a framework of existing water conservation laws.

Its important to note that mandated efforts have mostly taken place within the state and local level compared to the federal level. This analysis will therefore concentrate on the latter two states. It will involve a look at notable state and local governments that have put in concerted xeriscape efforts, how they have done it and if the efforts have been successful in their intended purpose.

On the federal level, there have not been any major regulations that give emphasis to xeriscaping. Federal authorities seem to endorse the xeriscaping program through education initiatives. Through the Environmental Protection Agency, extensive education and information on water conservation in landscaping through xeriscaping is carried out.

The information includes information on hoe tom locate federal local resources. The focus on local resources means the federal government treats the xeriscaping issues as a regional one that state and other local authorities are better suited to handle5.

One of the most probable reasons why the federal authorities may not be treating the xeriscaping issue with national urgency is the fact that the country is so large and diverse that a national effort to push for xeriscaping may end up being ineffective. Its therefore nearly impossible to tackle the issue from a national platform.

State and local governments on the other hand are more specialized in terms of populations and their environments natural conditions. Its therefore easy for them to roll out specific incentives that fit their areas of representation. Xeriscaping therefore is very much a local issues and concerns little of the federal government.

Numerous states have enacted laws and offered incentives meant to entice their populations to adopt xeriscape practices. Florida, Texas and California are some of them. There will be an individual analysis on every one of the states mentioned above. Their cases will be generalized over the rest of the states to help paint a picture of how xeriscaping is applied in the different settings.

Florida is one of the most water sufficient states in the US. However, the distribution of rain in the state is wanting. There is an uneven distribution of rainfall in the state. Besides, the state is endowed with sandy soils that have poor water retention capabilities. Additionally, the state has a fast growing population that has increased its demand on the water resources of the state.

The state of Florida was one of the few states in the US to enact water conservation legislation that gives emphasis to xeriscaping. In fact, it was the first state to enact a xeriscape statewide law.

The law requires Management and Transport departments to utilize xeriscape laws in all their new public property developments. It also requires all public properties constructed before 1992 to be phase in Xeriscape through a five-year period6.

Florida law criminalizes the planting of some exotic species that may not be supportive of xeriscaping. At the same time, the law promotes the use of xeriscaping concepts in the state governments landscaping initiatives.

The law also encourages local governments to use xeriscape oriented landscaping techniques and practices. Its so far the most explicit state law on xeriscaping in the US. Previously, there has also been a bill in Florida that proposed criminalization of the passage by localities of laws that prevent xeriscaping7.

Besides, the South Florida Water Management District together with the Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association, the Florida Irrigation Society and the local business community have collaborated to produce the Plant It Smart with xeriscape television program that seeks to promote the use of xeriscape in the state.

The program showcases an ideal Florida residential yard and how it can be retrofitted using xeriscape landscaping techniques to safe on costs, energy and time. The fact that the SFWMD is involved shows the level and commitment authorities have given to the implementation of Xeriscape8.

There is also the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), the City of St. Petersburg, and Pinellas County, Florida who have pooled resources together to produce the Xeriscape It Video game. The videogame enlightens people on the seven principles of xeriscape landscaping.

Furthermore, through the collaboration, SWFWMD has sponsored numerous xeriscape demonstration sites, besides having a xeriscape garden it its headquarters in Brooksville. The garden showcases the variety of native and non-native plants that that are appropriate for xeriscaping. The garden is accessible for viewing by the public who are issued with a guide about it.

The above initiatives have the full backing of the authorities. Its therefore safe to conclude that in Florida, the state has out in place adequate efforts to promote xeriscaping. One of the characteristics of the efforts employed by the state of Florida and that is observable in many other states is the involvement of the private sectors on raining awareness and promoting xeriscaping.

California is sometimes described as a water hungry state that satisfies its water needs through importation of water. The most affected part of state is southern California, a situation experts blame on many causes. Due to the water stress situation however, California unlike a number of state and local governments and federal government bodies has not widely implemented the xeriscaping principle of landscaping.

Through the California Environmental Protection Agency, has encouraged residents to that will help in conserving water in the state. The situation in California is representative of many states and local authorities in the country where xeriscaping has not gained root. The authorities dont appear keen in neither pursuing legislative nor incentive based approaches to encourage xeriscaping.

Besides California, Texas is another state that has taken official measures that encourage xeriscaping. Unlike the Florida case however, the Texas and California legal drives have not been as forceful. Texas passed the conservation law in 1991 that imposed various regulations meant to conserve water in the state9.

The state also passed a law that specified that xeriscape parameters met in all new construction projects of the state after January 1994. In 1995, there was also an additional legislation that made in mandatory for the state department of transport to implement xeriscape standard in all the construction and maintainace of roads and roadside parks of the state.

The law also urges local authorities of the state to consider enacting ordinances that will require people and businesses observe xeriscape practices to conserve water10.

Additionally there were two other state laws passed in 2001 that promoted responsible use of water through practices such as xeriscaping. In xeriscaping, the law identifies xeriscaping as a way popular way of saving water at home. It urges gardeners and landscapers to source for plants that wont drain water quickly and that will help reduce the monthly water bill of the average Texas household11.

Texas and Florida lead the park in enacting laws that observe xeriscape practice. The above analysis has been used to put into perspective of the existing state measures that promote xeriscape. No doubt, other states have different laws regarding the subject. However, this serves a demonstration of how far the concept of xeriscape has been utilized on the state level12.

The analysis of local authorities will concentrate on county authorities and city governments that have put in place measures that promote the use of xeriscape measures in landscaping their territories. Numerous localities, far more than state and federal have embrace the xeriscape concept.

One of the outstanding approaches local authorities are using is through offering cash incentives to their residents who are willing to implement xeriscape practices13.

In Las Vegas, the city government accords homeowners a cash reward of one thousand dollars if they convert their lawns to xeriscape compliant. Commercial landowners on the other hand get up to $ 50,000 in water bill credit if they comply with xeriscape standards.

The main aim of offering these rewards is meant to help local authorities conserve water and save on costs associated with it. In Las Vegas for instance, the city hopes to save 25% of water it could have used in a decade. Other plans by the Las Vegas city government to promote the a limited city ordinance turf of not more than 50%, of any new landscapes and awards on xeriscaped properties in the city14.

In Glendale, Arizona, residents of the city receive a rebate reward of $100 if they install or convert more than half of their landscape area commercial or private to non-grass vegetation. The Glendale Water Conservation Office carries out an audit to ensure all the requirements which are tailored along xeriscape practices are met.

A rebate check is then issued to the homeowner who would have fulfilled the requirements. The main objective of implementing Xeriscaping practices in Glendale is to minimize on the amount of water that is used by residents to irrigate grass.

The city of Albuquerque on its part offers cash rewards of a maximum of $ 800 for private residential properties and $ 200 for commercial properties that restructure their properties to incorporate designs that help in conserving water. According to statistics supplied by the municipality, the city has been able over ten years to reduce its percapita consumption of water from 250 gallons to 175 gallons.

Its important to note that there are stark differences between the approaches employed by the state governments and localities in implementing xeriscaping approaches. Many state governments including the ones discussed above clearly prefer the legislation approach while local authorities prefer the reward or incentive system.

The most probable reason why the state governments prefer the mandate system is probably because of the size of the population and the territory they preside on.

Only rules imposed through legislation are likely to work on a wide population such as that of a state. Additionally, the state is likely to spend more or save more by virtue on the size of its population. Incentives to entice people are therefore not likely to achieve much of either of the above15.

Local governments on the other hand have lean populations who are easily manageable. Their numbers are commensurate with the resources that cities have and their likelihood of its populations meeting the conditions are high. Furthermore, local governments have small jurisdiction areas which are reachable making implementation of laws and regulations easy compared to the state16.

There is need for states and more local authorities to come up with new and more appealing incentives that will be specifically targeted at real estate developers. The incentives will be structured in such a way that they will encourage those businesses already using and implementing xeriscaping measures. One of the businesses that will benefits from such incentives for instance includes HHP developers in Las Vegas.

The property development manager has so far developed over 25, 000 hectares of land with both commercial and residential properties. In their development, HHP has over two decades applied practices consistent with xeriscaping landscaping.

Given the fact that Las Vegas has provisions that require implementation of xeriscaping practices, the business has over time saved hundreds of thousands of dollars over the two-decade period. Its easy to use the above example as one of the benefits of using xeriscaping in order to entice more businesses and individuals countrywide.

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