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Residents' love of dogs means no turf at Pismo parks 

The city of Pismo Beach is nixing plans to install water-saving artificial turf at some of its parks, and it’s all your dog’s fault.

Well, not your dog specifically, but man’s best friend is the primary reason why city staff aren’t recommending turf installation at city parks. The recommendation comes after city staff evaluated the parks and found that visitors and their dogs heavily use most of them.

During a presentation to the City Council on July 21, city Public Works Director Ben Fine explained exactly why fake grass and lots of dogs don’t mix. He said squares of the artificial turf have small holes on their underside to drain rainwater, but those aren’t effective when it comes to handling pet waste.

“The problem is that, due to the spacing, when a dog goes to the bathroom on this it doesn’t drain and it settles on top, which can become odorous,” Fine said.

Turfing parks is just one of the ideas city staff is considering as Pismo looks to conserve water in the face of the state’s severe drought. Pismo’s 14 parks are some of its biggest water hogs and use an estimated 35 acre feet, or more than 11 million gallons of water, annually. 

While Pismo’s parks will get to keep their grass, the city has either stopped or reduced water consumption at all 14 locations. Six of the parks, including Ebb Tide, Margo Dodd, and Beachcomber parks are no longer being irrigated. Irrigation at the remaining parks was reduced between 35 and 65 percent, depending on the location. 

Fine told New Times that irrigation could be lowered further under certain conditions.

“It’s based on water supply and availability,” he said. “If we feel like a park can take a further reduction, we will do that.”

Fine added that the city wouldn’t go above a 75 percent irrigation reduction at the parks that are still being watered.

While turfing the parks was no-go, the council did vote unanimously on another water saving measure, passing an ordinance that requires all new urinals in the city be waterless and all traditional urinals be converted to waterless ones by February 2016.

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