Pretty Prius Freeway Flowers: What About the Water Restrictions?


Watering 2010 Prius "billboard" on Pasadena Freeway. Photo by RCruger

Call me an eco-curmudgeon, but a new ad campaign from Toyota to celebrate the 2010 Prius model has taken seed in Southern California. Nine "oversized" eco-friendly "Harmony Floralscapes" were planted along freeways with more than 20,000 living flowers. Beautification is wonderful (thank you, Lady Bird Johnson), but not during drought and wildfires. San Francisco, you're next. And how is watering it during daylight environmental?

There's got to be a better way to announce a new vehicle, especially a hybrid, than planting flowers and sod along a freeway in LA's dry season when water restrictions for landscaping is restricted.

According to the LA Department of Water & Power ruling: Southern California's water supply shortage is happening for the third year in a row. As a result, more water conservation is urgently needed. As of June 1, sprinkler use was restricted to Mondays and Thursdays, only between 9 am and 4 pm. The above photo with the guy hosing the flowers was snapped at 5:45 pm on Wednesday, August 26, along the 110 Pasadena Freeway. Should I call 1-800-Dial DWP to report water waste? It be a waste of time.

The New Water-gate

An investigative report by NBC4, LA's local TV news team in July, found sprinklers watering landscape along I-5 almost every day of the week in violation of restrictions. Among the 250,000 sprinklers on LA and Ventura county freeways, how many are watering illegally? Caltrans maintenance admitted they have no idea. The agency hasn't had enough workers to reset sprinklers to only Mondays and Thursdays, but expects to be in compliance by September.

Caltrans has been warned eight times by DWP. So why are residents being fined and not city agencies, when they've only reduced consumption by 15 percent? Maybe because Mayor Villaraigosa's yard sprinklers were blasting at 2 am, Friday through Sunday and Tuesdays, in violation of the watering law. NBC cameras also caught LA City Fire Station No. 61 running sprinklers every night.


LA's freeway traffic. Photo by billaday via Flickr

Yet the eco-friendly mayor was onhand for Florascapes' unveiling to announce: "The commute for Angelenos will now be brightened by floral murals that embody the City's progressive approach to solving environmental issues by merging beautification, sustainable design and reducing our carbon footprint."

What will "brighten" the commute, Mayor, is less vehicles, more HOV/carpool lanes, better bus service, and a taxi-sharing service. Perhaps actually charging for the subway instead of an honor system might help offset costs. And toss in our water savings on your home lawn.

Alright, the Prius-shaped bed of marigolds surrounded by petunias can handle the bright sunlight and possibly the water restrictions (if actually in effect). Also, in its defense, the campaign uses organic materials, maintained with non-potable water, solar electricity and ecologically responsible insect and fungi control, according to Greenmedia, who concocted this idea. Maintenance is provided by the nonprofit Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which provides training, education and work experience to at-risk young adults and school-aged youth.

But isn't this a waste of water, money and flowers? Grow flowers in climates where -- and when -- rainfall helps keeps flowers alive. The beloved Prius grows aplenty here in California. Plant more of Toyota's forest of floral urban recharge stations here.

More about Toyota and Prius:
2010 Toyota Prius a Big Hit, But Battery Bottleneck is Holding Back Production
Toyota Could Buy Lithium-Ion Batteries for Hybrids from Sanyo
Toyota Might Not Make a Yaris-Based Hybrid After All...For Now
Bigger Than 4 Football Fields: Toyota Completes 242000 Square Feet

Tags: Advertising | Commuting | Gardening | Los Angeles | Prius | Water Conservation