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Unprecedented Calif. Drought Emergency Declared


Dypsisdean
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California Gov. Brown declared his first drought emergency in 1977.

And what have those responsible for providing this precious resource to California's growing cities done to prevent the repeats in ’79-’82, 2007, and today? Apparently not enough - as today he mandates draconian rationing for those making Cal. their home. (Brown has ordered the California Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory restrictions to reduce urban water usage by 25%). And this may only be a start. I heard jail time mentioned as an enforcement measure for punishing "water wasters." Jail Time For Water Wasters?

An interesting article below from a source I don't often agree with. It highlights only one of the many illogical aspects of Calif water policies. There are several more. But with all the focus on the drought, and the reasons for it, the fact remains that drought has always been part of California's climatic fluctuations. And it's only prudent planning that would prepare for and prevent these emergencies.

And any prudent management by our elected officials has clearly been lacking - for decades.

How Growers Gamed California's Drought

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Kona, on The Big Island
Hawaii - Land of Volcanoes

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I saw the coverage on the noon news with the measuring pole in the Sierra and no snow to be seen. It was quite dramatic as they had colored markers which showed where previous years had been marked.

Once in this situation there really are no quick easy answers. I remember decades ago living back east and hearing about drought and water restrictions in California from my aunt who lives here. Now I'm here so it's really front and center for us. Yesterday on the news was a report from East Bay Mud saying customers were complaining about the smell of their water and explaining that it was because the water was being drawn from warmer sources and algae was present but still safe to drink. They decided to switch back to cold water sources but warned they may not have a source choice for long.

As maybe a typical homeowner, I think no glasses of water in restaurants statewide unless requested makes sense and easy enough to do. Heard something on the news about restricting watering of large public areas, golf courses, cemetaries and such. I think fountains could be left dry. Promoting mulching and drip systems for residential areas worth doing. Industrywise, activities like fracking, which I heard require large amounts of water, would be things I would eliminate. Suspect high water crops will wane (I know cotton is grown in the central valley and thought this might be one of them). Also don't get why we should be allowing new residential construction, other than replacing existing structures with similar ones, that will place even more pressure on the water supply. In general, living near some open area State parks, I am concerned about trees not getting enough water and become diseased and dying and the drying of fields turning to fire fuel or dust. A number of our smaller growers still left in our area struggled for water sources last year and imagine things will be even more difficult this year.

Dypsisdean, with changing weather patterns, how is Hawaii expected to fair? Historically has there been a time when the islands didn't get the rainfall we are accustom to hearing about like on the Big Island's east coast? I assume all of your fresh water comes from rainfall.

Zone 9b (formerly listed as Zone 9a); Sunset 14

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Classic, lets make room for the water wasters in jail and let the psychos run free. :bemused::rant::yay:

Bummer. :badday:

Nope, even with the depressed cloud it didn't rain.

Carl

Vista, CA

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Dypsisdean, with changing weather patterns, how is Hawaii expected to fair? Historically has there been a time when the islands didn't get the rainfall we are accustom to hearing about like on the Big Island's east coast? I assume all of your fresh water comes from rainfall.

I don't think anyone can reliably predict how climate will change - anywhere - including Hawaii.

But historically the windward sides of the Hawaiian Islands have always received copious rainfall, and the leeward sides dry. And until the Trade Winds stop blowing, this will be the case. In Hawaii there are droughts, but they are measured in months, not in years. However, these can cause disruptions to local residents and businesses, and therefore there is always an attentiveness to how best to manage this precious resource - as opposed to California - when as soon as a drought ends, all previous concerns take a backseat again - and the construction and agricultural lobbies take the upper hand.

In Hawaii it appears to me as if there is a realization that water supplies are finite and tenuous - and need constant diligent management. There are limits to growth and agricultural potential - something Calif. has not yet realized because it has been in perpetual denial.

As far as I know, the majority of Hawaii's developed water comes from the fresh water aquifers (feed by the rainfall) - which are unlike California in that they have generally been carefully monitored and regulated. There are virtually no storage reservoirs, and taking water from any of the many streams is also strictly regulated.

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Kona, on The Big Island
Hawaii - Land of Volcanoes

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So many people have already cut back so much on their water consumption -- without any relief in their water bills. How can they cut further?

Over last weekend I enjoyed watching lots of birds splashing in my little fountain that recycles water -- even a hooded oriole joined the finches and sparrows, phoebes and hummingbirds. Turning off the fountain turns off their water, too. This afternoon two little boys were jumping between my two small patches of grass out front, playing with a puppy -- probably the only two green patches of grass on my street to play on. I don't like to think of letting those small bits of lawn go brown, but they may. Right now they get 5 minutes twice a week. Everything else is on drip. I guess it goes to 3 minutes now.

There is a desalination plant being built in Carlsbad, CA that is supposed to deliver 50 million gallons per day beginning in late 2015. Another in Huntington Beach. I have a feeling this is a drop in the bucket for what is needed. San Diego passed up the opportunity for recycling waste water long ago, when opponents labeled it "toilet to tap" -- a phrase that really turned voters off if that was the only thing they knew about the project. Gray water use is still restricted, though many use it anyway. And here we are a few years later, no water, and no real alternatives. Not very bright.

I guess I can save water by spending more time in Hawaii -- fewer showers and less laundry in San Diego. :bummed:

Kim Cyr

Between the beach and the bays, Point Loma, San Diego, California USA
and on a 300 year-old lava flow, Pahoa, Hawaii, 1/4 mile from the 2018 flow
All characters  in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Kim, we've redone stuff and cut back a lot too and hard to see where much more can come from from our individual level. I think the Govs plan is for cities as a whole to cut back so sure there are those businesses and residences that have resisted doing any changes til now that will be effected most to make up that percentage. Hope they are looking at industries to evaluate those too and not just focusing on the end users.

Up north here cities and some industrial parks and residential complexes have adopted the gray water for irrigation to meet the restrictions asked for last year. Guess we are further ahead on that front. No desal plants here that I know of. Were suppose to get a few days of rain possibly Easter weekend and week after so hoping it comes to be. After that who knows.

Zone 9b (formerly listed as Zone 9a); Sunset 14

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These water "Experts" are straight up CRAY CRAY. They avoid speaking directly about actual rainfall data, go right to the snow in the mountains.

Here in Modesto, we have had ABOVE average rainfall for this past winter..... as have most areas in central CA.

The problem is that we had warm storms this year and there isn't much snow in the mountains 150 miles away.

The lakes did get more water than last year as well. The snow pack or lack of.... effects farmers most... or in my part of the state... its massive AGro businesses who get huge discounts on water from the snow pack..

Im sure that they will get there cut from city water sources and we'll have to pay through the nose jus to keep our palms alive.

Modesto, CA USDA 9b

July/August average 95f/63f

Dec/Jan average 55f/39f

Average lowest winter temp 27f

Record low temp 18f

Record high temp 113f

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I only have about a 1000 sqft of lawn left. Its mostly palms now... But i'm not going to let anything die.. Even if I have to water 4 or 5 days a week. Right now been watering 4 days a week.. And I have cut back because I was watering daily last year. 7 days to 5 days is 25%

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The "Jail" article/link in the first post revisits a situation illustrating how unprepared the State was and still is for the present state of affairs. I was in the swimming pool and spa business during the last several droughts in California. And it is so frustrating because no real lessons were/are ever learned.

As the article reminds us, first they prohibit the refilling of pools and fountains.. Swimming pools need to be completely filled in order for the filtration system to function. Not only can the equipment burn up if allowed to run when the pool is not completely filled - the pool water stagnates and becomes both a health and safety liability. Same with fountains - they need to be filled and circulating, or emptied completely.

All the pools that I handled for apts. hotels, Homeowners Association were regularly inspected by the same Dept that did restaurant inspections because the water in the pools were mandated to be drinking water quality - because it was ingested while swimming. People get sick, and have even died, in pools and water parks from ingesting water that was improperly chlorinated and filtered.

In addition, during the last drought the incident of West Nile Fever started to increase since and unfiltered pool quickly turns into a mosquito breeding ground. And pools cannot be left empty either - because they are a safety hazard, or in many cases will suffer structurally.

So - between the State and Local handling of the situation - pool owners will be left with fines/jail for filling their pools, or fines/law suits/jail for not filling their pools.

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Kona, on The Big Island
Hawaii - Land of Volcanoes

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The "Jail" article/link in the first post revisits a situation illustrating how unprepared the State was and still is for the present state of affairs. I was in the swimming pool and spa business during the last several droughts in California. And it is so frustrating because no real lessons were/are ever learned.

As the article reminds us, first they prohibit the refilling of pools and fountains.. Swimming pools need to be completely filled in order for the filtration system to function. Not only can the equipment burn up if allowed to run when the pool is not completely filled - the pool water stagnates and becomes both a health and safety liability. Same with fountains - they need to be filled and circulating, or emptied completely.

All the pools that I handled for apts. hotels, Homeowners Association were regularly inspected by the same Dept that did restaurant inspections because the water in the pools were mandated to be drinking water quality - because it was ingested while swimming. People get sick, and have even died, in pools and water parks from ingesting water that was improperly chlorinated and filtered.

In addition, during the last drought the incident of West Nile Fever started to increase since and unfiltered pool quickly turns into a mosquito breeding ground. And pools cannot be left empty either - because they are a safety hazard, or in many cases will suffer structurally.

So - between the State and Local handling of the situation - pool owners will be left with fines/jail for filling their pools, or fines/law suits/jail for not filling their pools.

Dean, we have a pool and this exact scenario has got me concerned. I am not thrilled at the potential cost to redo the pool after it sits without enough water. This won't be cheap.
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The "Jail" article/link in the first post revisits a situation illustrating how unprepared the State was and still is for the present state of affairs. I was in the swimming pool and spa business during the last several droughts in California. And it is so frustrating because no real lessons were/are ever learned.

As the article reminds us, first they prohibit the refilling of pools and fountains.. Swimming pools need to be completely filled in order for the filtration system to function. Not only can the equipment burn up if allowed to run when the pool is not completely filled - the pool water stagnates and becomes both a health and safety liability. Same with fountains - they need to be filled and circulating, or emptied completely.

All the pools that I handled for apts. hotels, Homeowners Association were regularly inspected by the same Dept that did restaurant inspections because the water in the pools were mandated to be drinking water quality - because it was ingested while swimming. People get sick, and have even died, in pools and water parks from ingesting water that was improperly chlorinated and filtered.

In addition, during the last drought the incident of West Nile Fever started to increase since and unfiltered pool quickly turns into a mosquito breeding ground. And pools cannot be left empty either - because they are a safety hazard, or in many cases will suffer structurally.

So - between the State and Local handling of the situation - pool owners will be left with fines/jail for filling their pools, or fines/law suits/jail for not filling their pools.

Dean, we have a pool and this exact scenario has got me concerned. I am not thrilled at the potential cost to redo the pool after it sits without enough water. This won't be cheap.

The biggest concern with an empty pool is that if you live in poorly draining soils and you have a big water leak, or deluge of rain, etc. - the pool will act like a boat and float up out of the ground. (They actually make concrete boats) Thus costing you many times the original cost of installing the pool and deck.

That is a pool professional's nightmare and why you probably wouldn't find someone who would empty it for you. I had disclaimers up the ying yang when emptying a pool. And not to mention the drunk who jumped in an empty pool one night and injured himself badly - that was one big lawsuit the Homeowner Association had to pay - or really the Pool Company who emptied it - or more specifically the insurance of the Pool Company.

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Kona, on The Big Island
Hawaii - Land of Volcanoes

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Don't know what other cities will require but I looked up our city's restrictions tonight and they went from a Stage I to a Stage 2 plan last night. Here's the portion on pools you guys might find interesting:

"Filling and refilling (more than one foot) of residential pools is prohibited; filling of ornamental lakes or ponds is prohibited except as needed to maintain aquatic life."

And the article in the paper went on to say that the level 2 restrictions will effectively eliminate new swimming pool construction while the restrictions are in place.

Not sure how much evaporation typically goes on where you are at but the above didn't sound unreasonable although I'm not a pool owner and I assume it still provides usage of the pool and avoids draining it and the problems associated with it. BTW do pool covers prevent alot of evaporation?

Stage 3 if it comes to that includes restricting water permits for new hook ups, curtailing construction in general.

Good news from what I read about my town is that it met it's 20% voluntary reduction from last year. Hopefully that means they won't be so heavy handed with water tiered rates.

Zone 9b (formerly listed as Zone 9a); Sunset 14

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Pool covers are great for preventing evaporation. I would think I put 70 percent less water in my pool with it on if not more. They are really cheap and also heat the pool and keep debris out. The downfalls are they are a pain to take on and off. I bought a 40'x20' 8mm cover for $115 which included delivery. I would think this should be imposed prior to saying you can't refill your pool.

Northern San Diego County, Inland

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Some relief came last night with an inch of rain in my rain gauge and more rain expected this afternoon. It was wonderful but, sadly, probably the last good rain until next fall. I replaced my lawn a a few years back with a good quality artificial one and it saved a HUGE quantity of water. I plan on doing a lot of selective hand watering this summer in order to cut down on total irrigation time with the automatic sprinkler system. Last year, cutting one day off that system per week (down to three time per week) enabled me to cut total use by over 20%.

Jim in Los Altos, CA  SF Bay Area 37.34N- 122.13W- 190' above sea level

zone 10a/9b

sunset zone 16

300+ palms, 90+ species in the ground

Las Palmas Design

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Some relief came last night with an inch of rain in my rain gauge and more rain expected this afternoon. It was wonderful but, sadly, probably the last good rain until next fall. I replaced my lawn a a few years back with a good quality artificial one and it saved a HUGE quantity of water. I plan on doing a lot of selective hand watering this summer in order to cut down on total irrigation time with the automatic sprinkler system. Last year, cutting one day off that system per week (down to three time per week) enabled me to cut total use by over 20%.

Time to take out my lawn to make room for more palms :)

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The realty is that California has tipped the scales of having a sustainable water supply. Everyone's focus is on saving droplets when thousands of gallons need saving. Simply, most of California is too arid to support its population, and definitely too arid for its agricultural sector. Sucking what is left in the aquifer will not last much longer.

If construction of multiple Desalination Plants is not the immediate focus - then your situation is hopeless. All that available ocean water is your only option. Government is not proactive, its reactive. They need to react now, but they will still kick the can down the road ... :badday:

Coral Gables, FL 8 miles North of Fairchild USDA Zone 10B

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heavy rain and major snow is coming to central cali today

Moose - you are so dramatic..... :floor:

Edited by trioderob
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Guess it takes a Cajun to bring rain clouds to California. Taken at lunch today.

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In my post I sometimes express "my" opinion. Warning, it may differ from "your" opinion. If so, please do not feel insulted, just state your own if you wish. Any data in this post is provided 'as is' and in no event shall I be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages resulting from accuracy or lack thereof, insult, or any other damages

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Just to show you where we need to save and I am not picking on anyone. The amount of water used to grow almonds in California is equal to the water used by the entire residential populations of both Los Angeles and San Francisco combined. Agriculture uses 80% of the water in California, 10% for industry and 10% by California residents. So you cannot have any meaningful conservation without the farmers. I grew up in Sacramento and the reality is there are probably better places to grow rice than a region that gets 20 inches of rain a year. All this talk about not filling water glasses in restaurants and not using fountains is just hogwash. It will have zero effect on total water use. The unspoken truth is that we have been surviving on being able to in an unregulated fashion pump unlimited water out of the ground to the point where near Bakersfield the elevation has dropped 25 feet in some spots. There will be a war pitting the farmers against the residents and I am hoping that we finally take action on the political front to make progress. Only one absolute in this situation, we will be asked to use less and forced to pay more.

patrick

Bonita, California (San Diego)

Zone 10B

10 Year Low of 29 degrees

6 Miles from San Diego Bay

Mild winters, somewhat warm summers

10 Miles North of Mexico/USA Border

1 acre

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Patrick's got it right. Focus should be on growing crops that aren't water hogs like cotton, rice, and corn are. There are plenty of better places in the US for growing those. Irrigation techniques are antiquated for the most part too. Billions of gallons of water are wasted by flooding orchards and fields with no regard to waste. If every household in CA stopped using ANY water at all, we'd only save 10% so the answer is not in how many people live in the state. It can support a lot more residents actually. It's in a more efficient agricultural use and it's doable. But, as long as the CA government ensures cheap water to the central valley farmers, there's not much incentive to more responsible use.

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Jim in Los Altos, CA  SF Bay Area 37.34N- 122.13W- 190' above sea level

zone 10a/9b

sunset zone 16

300+ palms, 90+ species in the ground

Las Palmas Design

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Las Palmas Design & Associates

Elegant Homes and Gardens

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  • 3 weeks later...

I spent most of this week in the upper Central Valley, from Sacramento to Redding. While I have been reading about the drought from afar and how much food is grown in that region, and keep in mind that I live in a highly agricultural area with sugar cane fields that seem to be vast, I was still taken aback and speechless at the sheer magnitude of what I saw. And I only saw the upper third of the valley. I am fairly certain that I saw more fields and orchard trees than in my entire life, cumulatively. I do indeed have a different understanding.

I also thought back to my original post about the Almond Crop needing to go, but then I thought as I had lunch in these areas, in local restaurants with local farmers that many have their lives and family histories invested here. I saw many new orchard plantings, so I am guessing in many cases they are switching to less water thirsty plantings. I cannot imagine what they must be going through. They planted what they have based on the conditions at the time, but now they have to decide between ripping out acres and acres of productive trees on the guess that this is long term, or to try to wait it out. It is a big crap shoot with 10s or even 100s of thousands of dollars on the line. And then the wait for new trees to become productive. What if the rains come back, think of the loss. What if the drought gets even worse, are these the right trees. Although no doubt, I will pay for it either way at the grocery store, at least my whole income and even my property itself is not on the line.

I now have a different more personal perspective.

In my post I sometimes express "my" opinion. Warning, it may differ from "your" opinion. If so, please do not feel insulted, just state your own if you wish. Any data in this post is provided 'as is' and in no event shall I be liable for any damages, including, without limitation, damages resulting from accuracy or lack thereof, insult, or any other damages

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That was a great post Keith. Here more along the coast you'll find wide swaths of everything from vineyards to strawberries, artichokes, garlic, corn, pumpkins, other vegetables, plus orchards and grains for feed hay. Of course Socal has citrus, dates and such. I also feel for the flower industries all along the coastal areas and palm and landscape tree farms.

The uncertainty of when it will be over makes it tough as you said. Right now Brown hasn't further restricted Ag like he's done with residential/commercial, but I know small orchards/farms in my area had restrictions come down from our water district last year on their allotments and the owners had a tough time getting by. I do wonder how much of the estimated 80% of water used for ag water as surface water goes back into the aquifers. Some of the reservoirs around here look really bad from the photos I've seen. The dam near us I'm sure is still releasing water into the aquifer ponds to replenish groundwater but I always use to notice the water release in the channels along Hwy 101 but not so much lately. Tonight/tomorrow we're expecting some rain here in the Bay Area and I know other areas have or will be getting rain inland. Thankfully so far we've had a very mild to cool spring here. Hope it continues and I wouldn't mind a cooler summer too.

Zone 9b (formerly listed as Zone 9a); Sunset 14

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With 80% water consumption coming from Agriculture, California isn't going to save much adding more restrictions on it's residents. State Government needs to focus on more efficient irrigation techniques, recapturing water, agriculture taxes/fines and desalination plants. Plus better infrastructure management and planning for population growth could help but this also is challenging with 1 million illegals crossing into the southern states each year. Anyway punishing and squeezing more out of the law abiding citizens is not going to solve the problem.

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Watching CNBC yesterday and they were talking about Calif drought and the housing industry. Forgot who the guest speaker was from the housing industry was but he was going on about how new construction was so water efficient these days. Thought he said so much so that he couldn't imagine them doing more outside of irrigation systems. The interviewer was trying to make the point that despite what they were doing adding more houses couldn't possibly be good for the rate of water consumption. The guest kind of skipped over that part and I don't think even adressed the comment. Sure he's been aware of residents who have been saying there needs to be a slow-down/moritorium on new housing starts.

Our city has stage 3 restrictions on the books such that if new construction is halted home owners can not use any water for landscaping.

Zone 9b (formerly listed as Zone 9a); Sunset 14

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I certainly hope a well thought out game plan is put together that comprehensively addresses this unhappy situation. I understand that gigantic aquifers exist below the Coachella Valley. Perhaps desalination combined with other resources can successfully turn this scary situation around. Maybe a pipeline from Florida and other wet States would assist.

At the end of the day, I hope that Californians are collectively woken up in order to force required action necessary to attack this situation. I have no doubt that the required intellectual assets exist and are directly affected to a point so as to inspire immediate action. Of course, this is not just a "State Issue" but a Federal issue and should be forced to the national level of immediate action.

What you look for is what is looking

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There is a reason politicians in this poorly run State are not shutting down wasteful Ag production of stuff like almonds, alfalfa, etc. Tax revenue from the fact so much Ag production is now shipped to Asia (particularly China). Where is the state going to recoup that massive amount of tax loss? Other states that grow similar crops would love for CA to stop growing soy or alfalfa. It really is a tangled mess we have ourselves in. It took 15 years to finally get approval to build the DeSal plant as a few eco-nuts with law degrees literally controlled the needs of millions.

Len

Vista, CA (Zone 10a)

Shadowridge Area

"Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are."

-- Alfred Austin

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, I guess I can reuse the ice in my cocktails for the next one.... :mrlooney:

Carlsbad, California Zone 10 B on the hill (402 ft. elevation)

Sunset zone 24

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  • 4 weeks later...

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