Two Azusa Unified elementary schools will soon be sprouting rich, colorful water-wise vegetation and drought tolerant succulents and shrubbery, thanks to a $70,000 water conservation grant provided by the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District.

The Paramount and Mountain View Elementary Schools Landscaping Water Conservation Project, a pilot program that emphasizes conservation and education, seeks to reduce water use by as much as 50-70 percent, educate students about the importance of water efficiency and encourage AUSD families to consider launching their own drought-tolerant landscaping initiatives.

“This is such a remarkable and important program to bring to the District to promote conservation while beautifying our schools,” said AUSD Superintendent Dr. Linda Kaminski. “We are deeply appreciative of the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District for their generosity in providing the grant that will allow us to better serve our community.”

The SGVMWD grant will be divided among the two elementary schools, with the majority going to renovating Paramount’s street-facing landscape, replacing the grass lawn with a variety of water-wise flora. Mountain View will use its share of the grant to enhance its already-existing succulent garden.

The vegetation is being selected as much for its aesthetic beauty as its drought-tolerant nature. Evergreen shrubs such as the spoon yucca, blue elf, dwarf olive and compacta will provide various shades of green; white, red and blue-flowering germander sage, blueblossom, blue oat and deer grass and bougainvillea are colorful perennials; and Mexican Palo Verde and Desert Willow trees will supply shade.

The pilot program will also replace aging irrigation systems at Paramount and Mountain View with new, water-efficient irrigation equipment.

The San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District works extensively with community partners, including the City of Azusa, to develop pilot programs to meet the needs of customers while complying with the California state emergency drought conservation mandates, which require all cities and water districts to reduce their water consumption by at least 25 percent from 2014.

“Water conservation is an important concept that our students can learn and begin practicing at a young age,” said AUSD Board President Yolanda Rodriguez-Peña. “We are committed to working with our community partners to make sure we are leading by example.”