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Low home sales, brown lawns, latest effects of state drought

Bees may swarm water parks

Merdies Hayes | 6/13/2014, midnight
Even in the best climates, homeowners usually have a hard time keeping their lawns and gardens green in the summer. ...

Even in the best climates, homeowners usually have a hard time keeping their lawns and gardens green in the summer. The California drought has made that chore more difficult, and now realtors have had to curtail their expectations of “curbside appearance” as the brown lawns, wilted plants and a lack of flower blossoms are reportedly driving down the prices of homes that are on the market.

In the drought, it costs as much as $200 per month to keep even a small yard green. Therefore, more sellers have abandoned watering, causing them to take a hit on the sale price. Realtors once saw the typical “fixer upper” usually requiring nothing more than a fresh paint job and a few odd chores to make a home more attractive to a potential buyer. But the front yard is the first thing you see, and increasing “dirt lawns” have made it difficult for a realtor to convince someone to shell out a $200,000 even before they step inside.

“They (sellers) are having to take a major reduction,” said Shaun Alston with Eagle Realty in Sacramento, among the regions most affected by the lack of and high price of water. “When we get into disclosures—the cost of what people have to pay to irrigate—it can become an issue for the buyer. One person actually skipped a property and found another with a drought-tolerant landscape.”

If you’re planning to take the cruise to Santa Catalina Island, better bring along some water. The popular tourist destination is bracing for water rationing this summer and fall and that could have a devastating impact on the among of visitors, ultimately resulting in less dining, tips, shopping, etc. Starting next month, the island’s 2,000 Southern California Edison ratepayers will have to cut water use by 25 percent or face penalties on their bills, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times. If there is no measurable rainfall by November, Edison warned it could be forced to reduce water usage by as much as 50 percent. Restaurants are reportedly considering serving meals on paper and plastic plates, cups and utensils and hotels may have to turn away customers. Heavy restrictions are already in place in terms of washing streets, piers, parking lots and driveways.

In an interesting turn of events that could effect the DryTown Water Park in Palmdale, bees have reportedly emerged from the “hide collapse” of the past decade and are seeking out water deposits in such recreational facilities. One water park in northern California has seen a 50-percent increase in bee activity. High temperatures tend to stress bees and cause them to swarm. Bees are attracted to water sources—particularly swimming pools—because they emit a strong odor (i.e. chlorine). If bees are swarming around your pool, mix one-fourth cup of dish soap into a quart of water, fill a spray bottle with the mixture and spray the bees. The mixture will kill those worker bees who are “buzzing” to return to the hive and spread the word about your pool.

According to the “drought action report” released this week by the California Department of Water Resources, if the dry weather continues until winter “hundreds of thousands” of annual and permanent crops throughout the state would be idled affecting homeowners, growers, local communities, related industries and the statewide economy. Cotton production could cease completely in the San Juaquin Valley, resulting in severe economic loss from crop revenue, employment, shipping and more.

Three years into the dry spell, California has already logged its driest calendar year on record. But there may be good news, says the water resources board. “Statistically speaking, the odds of a fourth dry year are low and the odds of ‘another 2014’ are really low” said Jeanine Jones, deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources. She said this week that a “mixed cycle” is more likely, which comprises several consecutive dry years, interspersed with an occasional wet one, akin to what the Colorado River has seen over the past 11 years.