Otay Announces the 2018 WaterSmart Landscape Contest ‘Best in District Winner


Otay Announces the 2018 WaterSmart Landscape Contest ‘Best in District Winner

14:24 17 July in News

As part of the countywide WaterSmart Landscape Contest, the Otay Water District has designated former water conservation class graduate and rebate recipient, Rosalba Ponce from Chula Vista, as the 2018 winner for “Best in District.”

Each year, participating agencies in San Diego County award residential customers who showcase the best water-wise features in their yard. This year’s contest committee from Otay determined that Ponce’s landscape demonstrates overall attractiveness, well though-out design, efficient irrigation methods, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

Prior to converting her yard, Ponce participated in two of the San Diego County Water Authority and its member agencies’ water conservation programs — the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program series and the Sustainable Landscapes Program. In 2016, she attended the free Landscape Makeover Program and as a result, hired a professional landscaper to help her replace her thirsty front lawn with a Mediterranean floral garden that was both welcoming and water efficient.

“Upon retiring, I thought the four-class course would be perfect for me,” said Ponce. “At first, it was very difficult for me because I had never really stepped out into the garden in my whole life. I didn’t know what a valve or filters were. I didn’t know anything about what kind of soil I had. This course gave me the tools to learn about turf removal and opened my eyes to the joy of remodeling my yard.”

rain barrel Ponce installed a rain barrel to irrigate her front yard.


Front yard before turf replacement.

With water savings in mind, she also installed a drip system, two rain barrels, and a detention area to collect rainwater.

That same year, she submitted her application for the Sustainable Landscapes Program, and in less than nine months, she had completed the full transformation of her front and back yards, receiving an incentive of $1.75 per square foot for replacing approximately 1,200 square feet of turf with sustainable landscaping.

Her residential landscape now serves as a living example of what conservation education can help create within the District’s service area and the region. Although, the District does not have separate meters for indoor versus outdoor water use, Ponce’s efforts could have potentially led to a decrease in her overall water use by an average of up to 38 percent.

“Ms. Ponce’s landscape transformation demonstrates the importance of outdoor water-use efficiency as a means of helping to meet the future water needs of our service area and our region as a whole,” said Board member and Water Conservation Garden Joint Powers Authority committee member Mitch Thompson. “Water-saving approaches to landscaping create healthy, natural yards that offer both economic and environmental benefits.”

Winner at Board Meeting

Staff recognizes Ponce at its July 2018 Board meeting.

At its July 11, 2018 meeting, the District’s Board of Directors honored Ponce as the winner for best exemplifying water-use efficiency in her garden. Ponce was rewarded with a certificate of recognition, gift certificate to a local nursery, and other promotional items. She is also being recognized in the District’s newsletter and other outreach materials.

“When I entered the contest, it was another way for me to share my story with other people and motivate them to do something that’s going to be good for our world,” said Ponce.

For more information on the landscape contest, visit landscapecontest.com.


Ponce’s back yard after being renovated.