July is Smart Irrigation Month
Parts of Texas have gotten some drought relief lately with a few atypical summer downpours that have greened lawns and added to local water supplies. The deluges have brought back some fond memories of 2007 when the usual blistering, dry heat took a break and Texans enjoyed a relatively mild summer.
Talk to a Texas meteorologist about the plentiful rainfall, however, and chances are he or she will give the ol’ noggin’ a scratch. That could be true in other parts of the country, as weather patterns seem to becoming more and more unpredictable. Who would have thought that the Lone Star State would get heavy rains for three days in a row to roll in the summer?
That’s reason enough to pay heed to Smart Irrigation Month in July. Just as Mother Nature opened her skies, she can close them back up.
Outdoor Watering Accounts for 30% of Water Consumption
Since 2005, Smart Irrigation Month has touted the positive impact of efficient irrigation and water uses. The month is designed to educate businesses, homeowners, growers/producers and other uses about efficient water use. Apartments are not exempt.
This year, more than 27 states have been petitioned to proclaim July as Smart Irrigation Month.
So why July? That’s the month that typically experiences peak water demand for outdoor watering, which annually accounts for 7.8 billion gallons or 30 percent of U.S. consumption.
The Irrigation Association (IA) is a big player in educating users about how to conserve water during the heat of the summer, as well as at any time during the year. Conserving water doesn’t have to require a pricey smart irrigation controller for the sprinkler system, but can be as simple as adhering to IA’s suggested practices:
Get in the Zone
Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
Consider Soil Type
Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
Don’t Send Water down the Drain
Set sprinklers to water plants, not parking lots, sidewalks, patios or buildings.
Water Only When Needed
Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
Water at the Best Time
Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
Water More Often for Shorter Periods
For example, setting an irrigation system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff. This is often called the cycle and soak approach to irrigation.
Adapt Watering to the Season
Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.
As communities across the country are starting to face challenges in maintaining healthy and affordable water supplies, it’s more important than ever to use water wisely and not waste it. What irrigation best practices are using to conserve water and keep your utility costs down?
(Image source: Shutterstock)