When arriving at SAN, one of the first things people notice are our beautiful palm trees. We have over 600 of them – a mix of Queen, Medium Fan, Mexican Fan and Date – on the airport's grounds. And while we are delighted that the palms have become visually synonymous with a warm and wonderful San Diego vacation – there is more to these lanky and lush plants than meets the eye.
Once established, palm trees don't require a lot of water. And that is important because while drought conditions have improved in the region, future weather patterns remain unknown. At SAN, part of our established sustainability plan for the future includes implementing water-saving landscape design and irrigation.
In 2015, we converted different areas of the airport over to drought-tolerant landscaping, also known as xeriscape. One of the biggest projects included turf installation covering 10,094 square feet.
Prior to changing the landscaping, water usage in this area measured 512 gallons per watering cycle. Since installing the xeriscape, the water usage has dropped to 159 gallons per watering cycle. That's an area water usage savings of 69 percent.
How do we know when to water? The airport's state-of-the-art system collects and analyzes data from multiple weather stations to determine watering needs. This saves approximately 9 million gallons of water in unnecessary irrigation each year.
So the next time you land at SAN, when you see our beautiful palms, in addition to taking a deep cleansing breath because you have arrived – you can also breathe a bit easier knowing that sustainability is at work.