Wise watering saves time and money, grows healthier plants, and could help to reduce the need for future expensive infrastructure from your water provider.
Let me explain that last one: If everyone waters on the same day and time, the city will need more water towers and/or other storage to meet the demand. To prevent this and help the city of Lawrence continue to meet consumer demand, the Utilities Department is asking residents to follow a schedule based on their house number.
“On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, we see a huge spike in water usage,” explains Jeanette Klamm, Management Analyst with Lawrence Utilities. Much of that demand is likely due to irrigation of lawns and landscapes with programmable clocks set to run on those days of the week.
“We’re asking people with even-numbered houses to continue that schedule, but for those with odd-numbered houses to switch to a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule. We’re not asking people to stop watering, just to spread it out over the week.”
To get the word out, the city is working to educate landscape and irrigation companies and has also put together a list of lawn irrigation tips for residents. The “tips” go back to the other benefits of wise watering — offering suggestions that will save time and money as well as providing the most benefit to plants. Lawn irrigation tip cards are available at city offices, K-State Research and Extension- Douglas County, and on the city’s website.
Darrell Huff, owner of the Lawrence company Turf Masters, says he is entirely in favor of the city’s recommendations, but he wishes more irrigation contractors would get involved. Huff has been in business for 38 years and has seen his share of poor irrigation management.
“We need to value and preserve water,” Huff says. “It is precious.”
He explains that his company makes it a point to ensure the systems they manage are in their best shape at the beginning of the season in addition to following the watering schedule suggested by the city. They set irrigation timers to water early in the morning, when both demand and evaporation loss are at their lowest.
Huff also follows the rule of deep and infrequent watering that helps plants develop deeper, healthier root systems.
“Don’t water more than two or three times a week and soak it deep,” Huff says. “Watering every day will just grow weeds.”
Although primarily marketed to residents with in-ground systems, the water-wise techniques will also benefit hose and sprinkler users.
For residents with in-ground systems, Huff suggests that homeowners visually inspect their systems about once a month over the season. By inspect he means getting up early and watching it run. If a sprinkler head is broken or spraying the wrong direction, have it fixed instead of paying for wasted water.
Klamm says the Lawrence area has been fortunate compared with other cities in Kansas faced with water restrictions, but even if it keeps raining it will take the area reservoirs some time to replenish.
“We’re just asking people to spread out their usage over the week and to avoid wasting it,” Klamm says. “If the water is running down the gutter, it’s probably too much.
To use water wisely, the Lawrence Utilities Department recommends:
• Adjusting sprinklers to avoid overspray onto sidewalks, driveways, etc.
• Repairing broken sprinkler heads immediately
• Watering early in the morning — between 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. is recommended
• Selecting drought-tolerant species
• Using rain gauges and/or moisture sensors to determine need
• Splitting applications of water to avoid runoff