The Sycuan Tribe completed a major reduction in overall water usage through an aggressive conservation program that includes retrofitting irrigation equipment, removing and replacing waterdependent landscaping and increasing awareness around the importance of water conservation.
 
The program has reduced the tribe’s reliance on groundwater at the golf course and resort by 25 percent and cut water use on properties within the Padre Dam and Otay municipal water districts by an average of 22 percent.
 
“Sycuan is committed to doing its part to conserve, reduce and reuse water throughout the reservation and our commercial enterprises,” stated chairman Cody Martinez. “We are proud of the reductions we have achieved so far and intend to increase our efforts this year and beyond.”
 
Projects on the original reservation completed to date include the removal of more than 25,000 square feet of turf and replacement with drought-tolerant xeriscape landscaping or mulch; the replacement of more than 5,000 sprinkler nozzles; and the replacement of 35 irrigation clocks with “smart clocks” that self-adjust to real-time weather for more efficient use. Key staff members have also obtained EPA-recognized industry certifications to strengthen their knowledge of water conservation and reduction measures.
 
“During the first year of the program, we strategically and aggressively pursued a number of projects to reduce, reuse and reclaim our precious water resources,” said Jim Park, assistant director of landscaping. “We have doubled the lands irrigated with reclaimed water and converted high-water usage irrigation systems to drip, increasing efficiency from 40 to 90 percent in those areas. The installation of xeriscape landscaping has further resulted in a more than 50 percent reduction of water use throughout those properties.”
 
The tribe plans to soon undertake additional projects that will build on the work already performed, including more turf removal; connecting substantial acreage of the original reservation to newly installed purple-pipe; installing a state-of-the-art reverse osmosis system to further benefit the groundwater well field; and expanding its water reclamation plant.
 
The tribe’s work has been recognized by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), which has provided more than $65,000 in rebates to support the water conservation program. The original Sycuan Reservation is entirely dependent on groundwater, with newer portions of the reservation served by the Padre Dam and Otay municipal water districts.