Horticulturist: Save money & water with irrigation repairs

DALLAS — A Texas A&M AgriLife Research water conservation horticulturist said home and business owners should repair and maintain sprinkler systems to save money and time while reducing wasted water resources.

“A lot of water-saving advice focuses on the indoors, but we know more water, especially in warmer months, can be saved by maintaining irrigation systems outside,” said Patrick Dickinson of Texas A&M AgriLife’s urban water program, known as Water University, in Dallas.

Household leaks account for about 1 trillion gallons of potable water wasted each year, according to the EPA.

“We also know that in the warmer months, as much as 60 percent of all drinkable water used by a household is spent outside on lawns and landscapes,” Dickinson said. “So it’s critical to make sure those systems are free from leaks and running as efficiently as possible.”

He recommended inspecting lawns for unexpected wet spots when the weather is dry.

“Look for water bubbling up from the ground or pooling and running over concrete,” he said. “Repair underground leaks by simply turning off your irrigation system controller, digging around the leaking section of pipe, cutting out the punctured section and joining the remaining ends with a cheap compression coupling from any hardware store.”

A new instructional video featuring Dickinson, Sprinkler Quick Fixes, available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9WMPyZetGI, instructs viewers on three sprinkler system repairs for efficient irrigation. Tips include replacing a broken sprinkler head, clearing clogged nozzles that lead to inefficient irrigation and adjusting spray streams to avoid watering sidewalks and other non-plant structures.

Dickinson also recommended ensuring all irrigation pipe and connections remain properly sealed and tightened according to manufacturer recommendations.

“It’s not hard to keep an irrigation system running efficiently,” he said. “But it does require a little time and attention..”

Click the irrigation tab at https://wateruniversity.tamu.edu for more tips on efficient irrigation and “quick fixes” for repairing and maintaining irrigation systems.


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Annual water level measurements reveal average decrease of -0.16 of a foot

An average change of -0.16 of a foot was noted in the groundwater levels of the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifer from 2017 to 2018 within the 16-county High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) service area.
The 10-year District average change (2008-2018) is -8.76 feet while the five-year district average change (2013-2018) is -2.07 feet.  The average saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer within the District is about 56 feet (2017-2018).
HPWD staff shared this information with the District’s five-member Board of Directors during their April 10 regular monthly meeting.
In early 2018, HPWD field personnel made annual water level measurements in a network of 1,353 privately-owned water wells completed into the Ogallala/Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) Aquifers.  In addition, water level measurements were also made in 33 Dockum Aquifer wells.
Since the 2017 measurements, there are nine counties with an average increase in water levels and seven counties with an average decrease.
Field Technician Supervisor Keith Whitworth shared statistics for the 1,250 observation wells with publishable measurements. He noted that about 40 percent of the observation wells measured in 2018 had water level increases.

  • 545 observation wells with increases ranging from 0.1 to 12.73 feet.
  • 462 observation wells with decreases ranging from 0 to -.99 of a foot.
  • 142 observation wells with decreases ranging from -1 to -1.99 feet.
  • 63 observation wells with decreases ranging from -2 to -2.99 feet.
  • 20 observation wells with decreases ranging from -3 to -3.99 feet
  • 13 observation wells with decreases ranging from -4 to -4.99 feet.
  • 5 observation wells with decreases ranging from -5 to -6.96 feet. 

“Each year, there are wells that show water level rises and others that show water level decreases.  The largest water level rise was 12.73 feet in a Lubbock County well while the largest water level decline was -6.96 feet in a Castro County well,” said Whitworth.
Updated water level data is now available to the public at map.hpwd.org
“Since 2013, the number of persons using the interactive map for depth-to-water and saturated thickness information has increased significantly. Because of this, HPWD is discontinuing its printed water level report starting this year,” said Jason Coleman, General Manager.  He added that moving to an online data platform eliminates the cost of printing and mailing the previous 84-page report, which saves taxpayer money.
Those who  would like printed information should contact Jed Leibbrandt at (806) 762-0181 or email him at jed.leibbrandt@hpwd.org. He can provide hard copies of water level measurement data for an individual county or specific counties of interest.

Download the 2018 Water Level Measurement infographic here

                                 This map depicts the 2018 water level measurement changes throughout the high plains water district. 

                                 This map depicts the 2018 water level measurement changes throughout the high plains water district.