Tulare County turns off sprinklers in drought fight

The Fresno BeeJanuary 28, 2014 

Tulare County will stop watering parks, lawns and planters while drought grips the region, Board of Supervisors Chairman Phil Cox said Tuesday.

"This county will lead the way when it comes to water conservation," Cox said in his delivery of the annual State of the County address. "Starting immediately, lawns and plants will receive minimal watering."

The directive applies to parks and grounds belonging to Tulare County.

The mandate is necessary for the greater good, he said.

"We ask the public to bear with us as the lawns go brown," Cox said. "We will do our part to free up as much water for our farmers as possible and ask others to do the same."

But the county will continue to water trees, especially young ones, to keep them from dying, he said. The Bermuda grass lawns will grow green again when the drought ends, he said.

The drought is a foe to be opposed with the same intensity as America opposed its foes in World War II, he said.

"When the Nazis threatened the world, our father and grandfathers went to war, side by side, regardless of color, status or religion," he said.

Likewise, "the state of California is under attack," he said. "The enemy knows no color, status or religion. Our common enemy is the drought."

Cox urged the public to "fast and pray for rain" on Sunday, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to which he belongs, is asking church members statewide to do just that.

In a nod to popular culture, Cox said he recognized the conflict between self-sacrifice on behalf of drought relief and the inevitable Super Bowl parties: "You can fast in the morning," he said.

Cox's state of the county address touched on other topics:

--County government has emerged from the recession "in good financial shape" and its retirement fund is healthy.

--Construction figures kept by the county planning department are nearing an all-time high, with the total value of approved solar energy panel projects at a whopping $79 million, for instance.

--The county is about to embark on jail construction projects. Recently approved state dollars will pay for a total of 500 jail beds, including a new jail in Porterville.

--An initiative last year by the Board of Supervisors to hold five meetings a year during evening hours, one in each of the five supervisorial district, was such a success it will be repeated this year.

--A joint meeting last year of the Board of Supervisors with representatives of the Tule River Indian tribal council was a step toward continued harmony.

"We now have a relationship with the council and the (tribal council) chairman," he said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6104, lgriswold@fresnobee.com or @fb_LewGriswold on Twitter.

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