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)

 

Annual irrigation system inspection can save water

April is National Garden Month! Longer days and warmer temperatures are prompting many area residents to prepare their home gardens and landscapes for the 2019 growing season. It’s also the perfect time to add practices to avoid inefficient watering and/or water waste this spring and summer.

 “Outdoor water use can account for 50 to 80 percent of home water use in the spring and summer,” said Information/Education Supervisor Carmon McCain with High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD). “Because of this, area residents are encouraged to examine their automatic sprinkler systems and repair them as needed to achieve optimum performance this year,” he said.

 Even the best-designed irrigation system will show signs of wear and tear over time. An annual irrigation system inspection can help save water that may otherwise be wasted. 

 Homeowners should watch their automatic sprinkler system as it operates. Sunken sprinkler heads should pop up easily without being obstructed by vegetation.  They should be adjusted to make sure water is not applied to streets, sidewalks, driveways, or other surfaces that allow runoff. Sprinklers should throw a large drop of water -- instead of a fine mist. This reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation and wind drift. Be sure to replace any sprinkler heads damaged by mowing--as well as any broken valves, seals or pipes.

Make sure your irrigation system does not apply water to streets, sidewalks, driveways or other surfaces that allow runoff.

Make sure your irrigation system does not apply water to streets, sidewalks, driveways or other surfaces that allow runoff.

 McCain said it is important to know how much water is being applied by an irrigation system during a given time period. Setting empty cat food/tuna cans or other shallow containers on the lawn is an easy method that homeowners can use to gauge the amount of water their sprinkler applies to the turf.  Once the containers are in place, be sure to note the amount of time it takes to deliver one-half inch of water to the lawn. This determines how long to operate the system to deliver the needed amount of water to the landscape.

 This technique is demonstrated in a Texas A&M AgriLife Research/Extension YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nIwZ_imn9w

 In many instances, irrigation system controllers are initially programmed and then forgotten. Adjusting automatic sprinkler systems in response to changing climatic conditions can help reduce water waste and save money for homeowners and businesses.  HPWD encourages persons to contact their local landscaping professional or landscape irrigation specialist for instructions on adjusting controller settings.

 When irrigating your lawn this spring and summer, please be aware of and comply with landscape watering ordinances your town or city may have in place.

 “With planning and implementation of proven water conservation methods, homeowners can have a beautiful landscape that conserves the surface and ground water resources of the Texas High Plains,” McCain said.

Schedule irrigation systems to run in the early morning hours to avoid evaporation and wind drift.

Schedule irrigation systems to run in the early morning hours to avoid evaporation and wind drift.