For the past 16 years, the Irrigation Association has designated July as “Smart Irrigation Month.” Typically, July is the summer month when most water is applied for landscape irrigation. However, much of this is wasted due to inefficient watering practices.
“Smart Irrigation Month” is an effort to educate business owners, homeowners, and others about the importance of efficient landscape irrigation practices.
With that in mind, High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) began its local sponsorship of the WaterMyYard program last month. Cities, public utilities, and water districts partner with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service on the project. It is free of charge to users within the sponsor’s respective service areas.
“Landscape irrigation accounts for 50 to 80 percent of the water used in a home during summer months. HPWD is testing the WaterMyYard program in an effort to take some of the guesswork out of landscape irrigation scheduling,” said Carmon McCain, Information/Education Supervisor. If successful, WaterMyYard may be implemented as a water conservation tool in other portions of the 16-county HPWD service area.
“The WaterMyYard program uses scientific data obtained from weather stations to determine how much water plants need, based upon local climate and other factors,” said Charles Swanson, AgriLife Extension landscape specialist at College Station.
The HPWD Lubbock County weather station is located in the City of Wolfforth. The station records evapotranspiration rates, total rainfall, average maximum and minimum temperature, total solar radiation, and average daily wind speed at 4 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Swanson says it is important to note that WaterMyYard uses the standard evapotranspiration (ET) crop coefficient for warm season grasses, such as Bermudagrass, Buffalograss, St. Augustine, and Zoysia. It does not incorporate cool season grasses, such as Bluegrass, Fescue, or ryegrass at this time.
WaterMyYard includes sprinklers and drip irrigation products from all major manufacturers, according to Dr. Guy Fipps, AgriLife Extension irrigation engineer at College Station. He says the program is not just for those who have permanent in-ground irrigation systems. Homeowners who use hose-end sprinklers can also get weekly runtime recommendations.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension released its new WaterMyYard mobile app on June 29.
“The app has several enhancements compared to the website-based program we’ve offered the past few years,” said Fipps. “It incorporates new, advanced features and tools to maximize landscape water conservation. Advanced features include options for push notifications in addition to text and email messages. Users can also enter on-site measured rainfall and adjust sprinkler runtimes for landscape conditions,” he said. The app is available as a free download from Apple Store and Google Play.
Persons can visit www.hpwd.org/watermyyard to sign up for the program.
WaterMyYard started in response to the severe 2011 drought across Texas. North Texas Municipal Water District was the initial program sponsor. Since then, Fort Bend Subsidence District, Harris Galveston Subsidence District, HPWD, City of Irving, Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), Memorial Villages Water Authority, Park Cities Municipal Utility District, City of San Angelo, Upper Trinity Regional Water District, and West Harris Regional Water Authority have signed on as sponsors.
Currently, there are more than 25,000 subscribers to the WaterMyYard program in Texas.
Questions about the WaterMyYard program should be directed to McCain at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling him at (806) 762-0181.