H2O Heroes

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Have you made significant reductions in your water use by changing your landscaping, changing your water using appliances? If you have, you may be an H2O Water Hero! If you are, share your story online at Facebook with the hashtag #DroughtChamp or contact the SSWD office with your feat of water conservation. You could be featured in our next bill insert.

SSWD H2O Heroes

This year, our customers responded in tremendous ways to calls to conserve water during the drought, but there were some customers who went above and beyond.

Richard Stanley

Our July 2016 H2O Hero, Richard Stanley, Our July H2o Hero Richard Stanley has been committed to conserving water for years, and decided this past year to find even more ways to save. “I felt we needed to take the drought seriously and live more efficiently,” Richard said. “The rebates and incentives SSWD offers really helped us to make the transition.” Richard removed 3,000 square feet of grass in his front yard and added low-water use plants and mulch, and then utilizing SSWD’s rebates he installed a drip irrigation system and a Weather-Based Irrigation Controller.  Richard didn't just stop with this yard, he also utilized SSWD rebates to install a pool cover to reduce the amount of water he was losing in his pool to evaporation. Inside his home, Mr. Stanley installed a water efficient clothes washer and replaced is high-volume toilets with high efficiency toilets that flush just 1.28 gallons per flush, saving 63% of the water used in his toilets.  Great job, Mr. Stanley!


Judi Semple

Judi Semple


Our May 2016 H2O Hero Judi Semple was concerned about the impact of the drought and decided it was time for a change. She enlisted the services of landscape designer Roberta Walker and together they came up with a plan to replace her lawn with a low water use landscape that is also a piece of stunning visual art.

Judi had seen a hme in her neighborhood with steel panels in their front yard and liked the look of it, but wanted to take it a step further. She described the idea to Roberta and got her started on developing a plan. Roberta put together a detailed plant book and layout, incorporating succulents like variegated yucca, agave, and aloe as well as drought tolerant plants and grasses like yarrow, blue fescue, lavender and lantana.

Judi then contacted local sculptor Diane Goettlicher and provided her with the plant book to use as inspiration for the series of sculpted steel panels. While Diane was cutting the panels, Judi met with a few different contractors until she found the ideal one to execute her vision.

Walden Green built three stucco covered stands for the panels and also dug a dry

well that is fed by her home’s downspouts. Rainwater runs from the spouts down into the well, percolates deep into the soil, and will ultimately replenish the ground water table. The new plants are all irrigated by a drip irrigation system and Judi will do the occasional hand watering with water she collects from her sink and shower.

Low-voltage LED lighting was placed in front of the three panels and near the new trees, making the yard even more beautiful at night.

Wendy Wilson

Wendy Wilson


Our April 2016 H2O Hero, Wendy Wilson, knew she wanted to do something to reduce her water use and make a difference during the drought. She had a water meter installed at her home in 2014 and was able to track the exact amount of water she used each month, and decided to take some steps to conserve.

Wendy enrolled in the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener training class offered by Sacramento County and learned more about her plants’ water needs, the best irrigation systems to use, and about low-water use plants that would be pleasing to the eye and also attract beneficial insects and wildlife.

Using what she learned in the class, Wendy applied for the Cash for Grass and Irrigation Upgrade rebates. She removed over 5,000 square feet of grass, and in its place installed a new drip irrigation system and a more functional and colorful landscape.

In the front yard, she placed raised beds and planted vegetables and low-water use herbs. Among the herbs she planted are lavender, rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage and Crocus sativus. The Crocus is not only beautiful, but also the source for saffron and grows very well in the Sacramento area.

In the backyard, she added permeable pathways of brick set on gravel, plenty of mulch and planted low-water use ground covers. The ground covers she added include white flowering Creeping Myoporum, Diamond Heights Ceanothus, Arctostaphylos Emerald Carpet and Jade Mound Grevillea Lanigera. These plants will spread out as they become more established and will require little to no additional watering.

She also added four rain barrels and will use water from the barrels to hand water her plants and trees that need additional watering during the hot summer months. Wendy also collects water from the shower as it warms and pours it into the rain barrels. It’s estimated that she will reduce her outdoor water use by 57 percent.

She’s very happy with her new landscape that will require less maintenance, less water and is also very attractive.

Monica Mitchell

Monica Mitchell


Monica Mitchell, manager of the Town & Country Garden Apartments, is SSWD’s June 2016 H2O Hero. Monica took a look at the amount of water they were using to irrigate the complex’s landscape and decided it was time for a change. She was one of the first people to take advantage of the cash for grass program and the only apartment complex so far to do so.

Monica removed the lawn in front of the 92-unit complex and replaced it with a new low-water use landscape, utilizing lava rocks and plants such as leucadendrons, lantana, lavender and miscanthus. The landscape team added plenty of mulch and a new drip irrigation system as well. Monica also did an irrigation upgrade for other sections of the property, swapping out old sprinkler heads for more efficient rotators and added a new weather-based sprinkler controller.

Joe Smith-Steward

Joe Smith Stewart


Our March 2016 H2O Hero, Joe Smith-Steward, wanted to find out how he could conserve more at home and set up a free WaterWise House Call to get some expert advice.

Based upon the SSWD water-efficiency expert’s recommendations, Joe took advantage of three of the rebate programs. He installed

a recirculating hot water pump to make sure his house had hot water at the turn of the tap, a WaterSense weather-based irrigation controller to take the guess work out of when to run his sprinklers, and did an irrigation efficiency upgrade and swapped out his old sprinklers for more water-efficient rotator heads.

By taking these actions and other steps around his home, Joe reduced his water use by over 25 percent compared to 2013.


Miss Rea Photo


Ms. Rea decreased her water use by an incredible 75 percent (more than 20,000 gallons) in June and July this summer compared to the same timeframe in 2013. She achieved this remarkable reduction by prioritizing her landscape and deciding to stop watering her lawn, but kept her bushes and trees alive with limited deep watering.

Inside her home, Miss Rea worked hard to conserve water by washing only full loads of clothes and capturing shower and faucet water in a bucket as it heated up

Martha Gilmore and Haim Weinberg

Gilmore Photo


January 2016 H2O Hero's Martha Gilmore and her husband Haim Weinberg, used SSWD’s cash for grass rebate to replace the lawn in their front and backyard with a drought-tolerant, low maintenance, vibrant landscape that is stunning to the eye and a perfect spot for entertaining or relaxing.

Working with landscape designer Roberta Walker, they developed a detailed plan incorporating low-water use plants (such as Echinacea, Lavender, Lantana, Sedum, and Salvias), drip irrigation, LED lighting, gently curving paths, raised beds, and sitting and dining areas.

They are anticipating an 80 percent reduction in the amount of water used on their yard, and now have a landscape that is both beautiful and water-efficient.

Richard Commins

Richard Commins Photo


Retired teacher Richard Commins, our February 2016 H2O Hero,  removed nearly 10,000 square feet of the grass in his yard and replaced it with a new low-water use landscape – and this 88 year old did almost all of the work on his own.

He spent months removing all of the grass with a pitchfork and other tools and then drew upon the talents of his wife and grandchildren, ages 12, 14 and 18, to help him with some of the other work. His wife pitched in by helping with the rebate application, and his grandsons assisted him by wheel barrowing in the mulch and tamping down the soil for the new path.

Richard shopped around at local nurseries and ended up purchasing most of his low-water use plants from a local Home Depot. He also convinced some tree trimmers to provide him with plenty of mulch - nine truckloads worth - to put around the new plantings and his existing trees, and laid a new path through his yard made of decomposed granite. He raised some areas up to give a more picturesque look, and compared the process to sculpting, as he sought out different shapes and colors to feature.

It’s estimated that he will save 121,730 gallons per year with his new beautiful yard.