The Xeriscape Project

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jarad A. Denton
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
It sounds like an evil plot by a mad-scientist bent on world domination involving lasers and possibly the moon.

However, the Ellsworth community need have no fear of the Xeriscape Project.

"This project is about reducing energy consumption by saving water," said Larry Herges, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron architect and Xeriscape Project manager. "With Xeriscaping, we will save 95 percent of the water the base previously used."

Xeriscaping is the process of altering landscaping and gardening tactics to reduce or eliminate water for irrigation. The base has identified 17 high profile areas, spanning approximately 50 acres, they will target for Xeriscaping. The project should take approximately a year to complete. Herges said the areas all have irrigation systems and blue grass lawns.

"The goal is to eliminate the water dependent blue grass," he said. "We will then replace it with a drought resistant prairie grass mix, which will require less irrigation."

By reducing irrigation dependence and maintenance, the Xeriscape Project translates to huge savings for the base. Ellsworth will save an estimated 11 million gallons of water each year, resulting in an annual water cost savings of $113,000. Herges also said that the amount of money saved will allow Ellsworth to pay back the cost of the project in 14 years.

"The money we save through the project becomes available for other projects around the base," Herges said. "Simply, Xeriscaping offers both environmental and monetary benefits for the base."

However, the savings comes after the blue grass is removed and replaced - which is why certain areas on base may seem a bit sparse on landscaping. One of the first affected areas is the Freedom Chapel, where the blue grass was recently removed.

"I think what they are doing is awesome," said Staff Sgt. Sheldon Milligan, 28th Bomb Wing chaplain assistant of resource management. "Anything to make the base look more welcoming and modern is a pleasant addition."