Oregon Travel Experience has been closely following Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order for state agencies to actively conserve water during Oregon’s drought. Although wet weather recently made a re-appearance along with several good storms, statewide water conservation remains a “hot” topic.
OTE rest area staff initiated projects to prioritize the identification and elimination of even minor leaks in irrigation or plumbing lines, and improved other water-conserving measures such as replacing worn faucets and fixtures.
Since rain in the eastern sector is not as prolific as in the Willamette Valley, dry conditions significantly affected the health of rest area shrubs and trees at our rest areas along Interstate-84. At the Boardman and Stanfield rest areas, staff banded together to re-imagine landscaping techniques.
Supervisor Joleen Odens and her team planned ahead to conserve both water and diminish impacts to their budget. Rachel Muniz, a rest area specialist, managed a project that significantly decreases water-waste and at the same time, beautifies in a drought-conscious manner.
At Boardman, Muniz leveled the ground and installed 15 water misters to replace ineffective, wasteful sprinklers. Her plan created flagstone pathways, installed river rock over dead lawn, and built retention-wall planters around exposed tree roots. Co-worker Jon Tucker built an attractive bench for weary travelers to enjoy the new “xeriscape” garden.
The new water misters run at a very restricted 15 minutes per day, at a rate of 1.5 gallons per minute. Over 112 gallons of water per day are saved with the new system. Odens and her team are to be congratulated for their innovative plans to improve rest area beauty for Oregon’s travelers while conserving water resources.