Letter to the Editor: City should remove irrigated grass

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The City of Laguna Beach could set an example for the entire community by removing substantially all of the irrigated grass at City Hall, Main Beach and Heisler Park. These are very substantial areas. And, they require a lot of water to maintain. The Water Department regularly chides us residents to save water. It seems rather tone-deaf for the City to ask us to save water while it squanders tens of thousands of gallons per year, keeping nonnative grasses watered.

Tom Papa, Woods Cove

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  1. Tom:
    Buffalo grass, a hybrid developed by several California universities (UC Riverside & Davis), has only 25% of the demand.
    Geneticists that created it included a natural insect and relatively disease free turf.
    As everyone rushes to remove their lawns and try to install xeriscape, what’s being done has negative ramifications: Removal increases persistently high ambient temperatures (day into late night), so-called “heat islands” are created.
    Grasses also provide oxygen, and temperatures without them can be elevated by several degrees—thresholds that at times require air conditioner usage to offset.
    This results in the increased use of A/C that threatens the grid, thus an energy downside is a larger carbon footprint.
    And there’s no small irony that many urban landscapers are now trying to offset those heat islands by planting shady trees everywhere possible to cool things back down.
    Oh, and that artificial astroturf? It sloughs off plastic pollutants due to oxidation, exposure to UV. Many playing fields featuring such turf are now being reconsidered as toxic exposure sites.
    Decomposing, it either goes airborne for dispersion or drains into waterways, lakes or the ocean.

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