July Is Smart Irrigation Month

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July is typically the month when the most water is used for landscape irrigation. This can account for 50 to 80 percent of the water used in a home during summer months. Much of this is often wasted through selection of improper plant materials and/or inefficient landscape watering practices -- including runoff.

As a result, the Irrigation Association (IA) has named July Smart Irrigation Month to draw attention to use of efficient irrigation technologies and practices.

The High Plains Water District (HPWD) is celebrating this month by sharing tips to help homeowners reduce the amount of water used outdoors.

You can save water in your landscape by implementing some of these practices:

  • Conduct an annual irrigation audit to make sure your system is working efficiently.

  • Replace water-intensive plants with drought-tolerant or native varieties.

  • Use smart technologies to help manage water use. Rain sensors, soil moisture probes, and smart controllers can help you with water management decisions.

  • Water deeply and less frequently to make your turf more resistant to drought and/or foot traffic.

  • Install a rainwater harvesting system to offset your use of groundwater or municipal water supplies.

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Smart Irrigation Month is not just for homeowners. The Irrigation Association also has some helpful tips for agricultural producers.

  • Take advantage of cost-share programs, such as the USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

  • Minimize irrigation water runoff (“tailwater”) from fields.

  • Use telemetry equipment to improve irrigation scheduling.

  • Improve soil management to improve water infiltration and reduce runoff.

“It is important to make sure irrigation systems are properly operated and maintained,” says High Plains Water District Manager Jason Coleman.  “This not only saves money—but it can help reduce waste of the region’s surface water and groundwater resources.  The High Plains Water District encourages persons to use water wisely without waste each day,” he says.

Additional information about Smart Irrigation Month is available at the Irrigation Association’s website (irrigation.org)

 

HPWD now enrolling producers for 2018 Irrigation Assessment Program

Producers enrolled in the Irrigation Assessment Program will receive water level measurements at the beginning and end of the growing season, as well as ultrasonic flow rates on wells and irrigation systems in the program. 

Producers enrolled in the Irrigation Assessment Program will receive water level measurements at the beginning and end of the growing season, as well as ultrasonic flow rates on wells and irrigation systems in the program. 

The High Plains Underground Water Conservation District is now enrolling producers for participation in its 2018 Irrigation Assessment Program.

Since the program's reinstatement in 2013, cooperating producers have volunteered to have their center pivot or subsurface drip irrigation system evaluated by HPWD staff. Water levels in wells are measured at the beginning and end of the growing season. In addition, flow rates of the wells/irrigation systems are checked with an ultrasonic flow meter. This service is provided by HPWD at no cost to willing participants.

The pumping hours, total gallons of water per minute, and the number of irrigated acres are calculated to determine the total acre-inches of groundwater applied during the growing season.  Rainfall totals are determined through the use of  radar estimates from April to September. This gives an estimate of the total inches of water available for plant use.

Water samples are also collected as an extra service to those participating in the program. HPWD is able to check Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), chloride, and pH levels of groundwater. It is important to understand water chemistry since it impacts the efficient use of supplemental nutrients applied to crops.

All this information is used to better understand the groundwater conditions in aquifers within the HPWD service area. 

For example, the 2017 program participants' well data reveals an average depth-to-water of 216 feet and an average flow rate of 110 gallons per minute. The average amount of irrigation water applied in 2017 by program participants was 6.6 inches for cotton, 9.9 inches for wheat, 10.5 inches for peanuts, 11.8 inches for silage, and 12.2 inches for corn.

All information gathered from each site is shared with program participants. Several producers have said the data has helped them better understand their irrigation system's performance.  

High Plains Water District encourages all interested producers to participate in the 2018 Irrigation Assessment Program. There are two major benefits. First, it helps farmers understand how much water is used per year for crop production. Second, it provides beneficial data for future water planning efforts where accurate irrigation pumping information must be considered.

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