Home Letter To The Editor Is Your Lawn Mission Critical?

Is Your Lawn Mission Critical?



Is your lawn “mission critical”? During a drought is any lawn “mission critical”? A least one large EBMUD customer, Saint Mary’s College of California in Moraga thinks so. It declared sports field grass to be “mission critical.”

Saint Mary’s College (SMC) might be one of the largest water users in Moraga and it embraced water conservation by asking students to take shorter showers and not using a fresh towel after each shower. Now that is not to say that they scoff at sacrificing during a drought, they do not. In fact they claim a 13% to 15% reduction from 2013. Of course they must do more. You or I might let our lawn die, but SMC draws a line in the turf. They do not plan to sacrifice the chapel lawn and sports field grass is “mission critical.” Is grass an NCAA rule, as the SMC website implies?

Really SMC, is a college lawn or any lawn, so important that it ranks above conserving water for cooking, hygiene or drinking?  Is it in the SMC mission statement? No. If it lets the lawn go will the NCAA suspend SMC? No, in fact if there is an NCAA requirement it does not apply to the lighted sports field or any other field not used for NCAA play. So come on SMC, the NCAA won’t boot you if you let some of the grass die.


SMC Neighbor

(Note: NEWS24-680 doesn’t normally allow anonymous letters but the author of this letter, who we were able to identify as a Moraga resident who lives near the college, asked that their letter be unsigned to head off any future, personal rancor between neighbors).


  1. You cannot shame SMC into action. Look at the hypocrisy of their website and PR materials stressing how they follow the Catholic “Lasallian” tradition of caring for their neighbors and contributing to the community, at the same time they move their athletics and parties to the fields next to the nearby houses and swamp them with noise, put up stadium lights that glare into people’s yards, and threaten to sue the city if restrained. And I know why you had to post this anonymously. The older Bluffs gentleman there had a nice online following posting information about the Bluffs and its history or alerts about coyotes and such, after he voiced opposition to the noise and lights was harrassed and put down by those associated with SMC employees who live there. SMC is not nice.

  2. It’s a business. They depend on keeping their dorms full of kids paying big tuitions to go there. Brown lawns don’t look good on the school brochures.

  3. If they are willing to pay thier fines and surcharges for overuse, why is it our business what they do on their own private property? Look at the bright side, they are subsidizing you and me when EBMUD goes out and buys water from other sources.

  4. Comment: SMC is a business…Brown lawns don’t look good…

    Both things are true

    Comment: If they pay their fines and surcharges for overuse, why is our business…?

    What you ask is very much like asking if it is a responsible act to run red lights if you pay the fine. In the case of watering the lawn, there are fines for you and fines for me, but never fines for SMC. Commercial activity is exempt on the theory that water use is essential to manufacturing etc., and cannot be significantly reduced. Lawns are not specifically exempt. In fact EBMUD officially determined that,

    “…that during water shortages, the use of outdoor water for irrigating lawns and outdoor landscaping is not essential to public health and safety, and may be an unreasonable use, an unreasonable method of use, or a waste of water…”

    Almost all of the water that we use is publicly owned, and distributed by a public agency. It is our business.

    The original letter makes a valid point. All citizens should do the responsible thing and conserve. Wealth is not a socially responsible basis for self exemption.

  5. One thing has become clear in this drought year: there is a drought condition for the rich and there is one for the average guy. The concept that we should be grateful to them for somehow “subsidizing” our use rings false and is disturbing that it should even be mentioned.

  6. I can’t fault them for wanting to keep their sports fields green. Sports are a huge money maker for colleges.

    Hopefully, someone somewhere is doing some research to improve the problems (namely injuries) that athletes encountered with artificial turf so that it can become a viable alternative down the road. Perhaps, then, we could all have what we want: green fields and water conservation.

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