5 simple ways you can get smarter about conserving water when you irrigate your landscape

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

July is full of days with fun summer themes, such as Ice Cream Day, Milk Chocolate Day, and even Parks & Recreation Month.

Summer also marks peak landscape irrigation season, so it’s a perfect time for Smart Irrigation Month, a public awareness campaign that promotes efficient water use. Here are five simple ways you can help conserve our precious water resources and maybe even save a few dollars in the process. 

1. Find your irrigation controller’s OFF position.

Irrigation is meant to supplement rainfall, not the other way around. When we have abundant rain, there’s no need for regular irrigation. If it rains an inch or more in a week, do your lawn and your bank account a favor by turning your sprinklers off.

2. Install a rain sensor.

Rain sensors are small, inexpensive devices that collect rainwater. After a certain amount of rain, the sensor interrupts the next cycle on your irrigation controller. They are especially helpful when your system has run once during the week, but it rains later in the week. Rain sensors are required on controllers installed after 2009.

3. Check the soil moisture.

Deep, infrequent irrigation provides a reservoir of soil moisture and encourages deep roots. The frequent rainfall this spring has primed our lawns for that. However, when the rain frequency decreases, the soil may dry out quickly. You can check moisture levels with a moisture meter. In honor of Smart Irrigation Month, we’ll provide one free meter per household while supplies last. Just drop by Utility Customer Service at 310 Krenek Tap Road.

4. Sign up for Brazos Valley WaterSmart emails.

How often should you water? How much rain has fallen in your neighborhood? That vital information is at your fingertips through Brazos Valley WaterSmart, a free online resource that tracks rainfall totals and provides weather-based watering recommendations. A network of digital rain gauges collects rainfall, temperature, and evapotranspiration data and turns that into fact-based recommendations.

Rainfall data for June shows an average of 5.5 inches of rainfall and a range of 3-9 rainfall events at or above 0.25 inches. That means if you’re receiving the watering recommendations, you probably haven’t turned your system on at all this summer.

5. Schedule a Free Landscape Irrigation Checkup.

Water Services offers free landscape irrigation checkups to help our customers learn how to water efficiently. Those who benefit most from this service have an in-ground irrigation system and use more than 20,000 gallons per month for consecutive months or more than 25,000 gallons in a single month (on an average-sized residential lot).

Some irrigation systems use 4,000 gallons or more per cycle, so adding a few extra cycles or watering days can quickly wreck your water bill. During an irrigation checkup, a Water Services representative shows you how to read your meter, document current system settings and efficiency issues, and recommend a watering schedule with estimated savings. We’ve conducted more than 1,000 checkups to help our customers manage water bills as we manage our peak seasonal water demand.

If you have questions, contact me at 979-764-6223 or jnations@cstx.gov.

<strong><em><span class="has-inline-color has-medium-gray-color">About the Blogger</span></em></strong>
About the Blogger

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.

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