5 smart ways to trim your water bill while helping your landscape flourish this summer

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

The last couple of summers were among the hottest and driest College Station has experienced. As a result, high demand led to our community’s highest water usage ever.

We made it through the summer, and as we leave Stage 1 restrictions behind, we offer these simple tips to ensure a healthy landscape and low water bills while helping us maintain a reliable water system for everyone.

1. Sprinklers Nixed, 10 to 6

Steamy summer days are back, so many irrigation systems are running – some at the wrong time. City ordinance prohibits overhead spray irrigation from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Daytime irrigation is wasteful since most of the water evaporates.

It’s okay to run sprinklers for inspections or repairs but avoid routine watering during those hours.

2. Rain On, Sprinklers Off

Stay aware of your neighborhood rainfall totals with a rain gauge. If we receive at least a half-inch of rain, leave the sprinklers off for a few days. You can check daily rain totals for your area at Brazos Valley WaterSmart and sign up to get weekly watering advice.

WaterSmart recommended irrigation just once in April, and the need was met by rainfall. The next time it recommended watering was the last week in May when it suggested irrigating no more than twice a week.

3. Know Your Irrigation System

What types of sprinklers do you have? Fixed spray, rotors (sprays a large area), rotating nozzles (several streams), drip tubing, or tree bubblers? They all put out water at different rates. Fixed sprays have the highest precipitation rate (about 1.5 inches per hour), and drip irrigation uses the least amount.

Because the amounts vary by sprinkler type, they should not run for the same span.

4. Use Cycle and Soak

Frequent irrigation encourages short roots that stay near the soil surface. Irrigation that thoroughly saturates the soil encourages deep roots, resulting in more drought tolerance. The Cycle and Soak method divides the total run time into two additional runs.

A rotor zone running 30 minutes on Monday/Wednesday/Friday will likely produce a lot of runoff, using more water than needed. Instead, have the zone run for 10 minutes in four cycles on Tuesday and Saturday.

Irrigation systems can use 1,000-8,000 gallons per cycle. The average wintertime household water use (all indoors, no irrigation) is around 8,000 gallons, which means you may use more water in one summer cycle than in an entire winter month.

5. Free Landscape Irrigation Checkups

You’ll pay higher water bills if you water multiple days per week with long run times and unrepaired leaks. Overwatering could be the culprit if your tab is $150 or more, and you may benefit from an irrigation checkup.

To schedule a free irrigation checkup, contact me at 979-764-6223 or jnations@cstx.gov and type “Irrigation Checkup” into the subject line. We’ll review your watering schedule, evaluate each zone, and suggest a revised timetable.

Enjoy the summer and stay cool!

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. Jennifer was appointed to the Brazos G Regional Water Planning Group in March 2021 as a voting representative for municipal water interests. A native of Fremont, Calif., she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis and a master’s in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M.

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