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  • TIPS to: Save Water, Save Money

    Friday, May 28, 2021   /   by Chris Green

    TIPS to: Save Water, Save Money

    [Scroll to botton for UPDATE & Watering Schedule]

    I showed a home the other day and the bath rug read, "Save Water Shower Together". I thought how clever it is, but really, what are we all doing to save water? And how could I be of service to our Utah drought situation... that's when I thought I would not only do my part, but also get your help!

    If you have listened or read any of the news about Utah in the last month, I am sure you have heard about the drought and that we need to conserve as much water as we can.  The snowpack has been all used up and the reservoirs are well below where they should be.  Lake Powell, for instance, is down 40 feet this year in May, compared to last year.  In total, Lake Powell is down 140 feet.  Crazy, I know!  So, what can you, no, what can we do to not use up all our water?  I am glad you asked.
    Now this water thing isn't a brand new interest for me. It's important to know that Rachel (you know her... my work and life partner) thinks I have a peculiar obsession with water... always commenting on rivers, snow pack, and the levels of lakes. I also have a curiosity about the direction rivers flow, but probably not more on that later.

    It's not at all unusual for me to be reading and checking in with the snowpack and watering recommendations from the experts.  With the activities that I have written about (hiking, looking at horses and waterfalls), you probably can assume that I'm not just checking the snowpack just for curisotiy sake.(skiing anyone)  The best is SlowtheFlow.org.  Or my go-to place for this type of thing...KSL.com. (Weather page) KSL.com gets a lot of their info from slowtheflow.org.  Also, in March, Governor Cox issued a "Drought Executive Order"
    The "Drought Executive Order" that was issued states that 100% of the state is in the moderate drought category and 90% of the state is experiencing extreme drought.  Following a record dry summer and fall last year, this winter's snowpack only reached 70% of normal.  (Don't worry, there were plenty of great powder days) With all the lack of water for the whole year the soil moisture was the lowest level since monitoring began in 2006.  You might have noticed that you had to turn on the sprinklers a little earlier this year because of that low soil moisture.  The low soil moisture means, when it does rain, or the snowpack runoff, the ground soaks up the water rather than the soil being so saturated that the runoff water actually makes it to the reservoirs.  Lake Powell, for example, was letting more water out of the lake than it received in, in May.  The declaration of the "Drought Executive Order" allows drought-affected communities, agricultural producers, and others to officially begin the process that may provide access to state or federal emergency resources. The last time this has happened was in 2018 and the numbers are showing that we are in a dryer situation this year than 2018.
    At either website, slowtheflow.org or KSL.com you can find how you can save water.  A few water saving tips are, 
         -Fix leaks immediately (indoors or outdoors)
         -Run full loads of laundry and dishwashers.
         -Turn off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, soaping up, doing dishes, or rinsing vegetables.
         -Reduce showers by at least one minute.
         -Wait to water your lawn
         -Know when to water your lawn
         -Plan for the irrigation season and consider implementing water-wise landscaping or purchasing a smart irrigation controller.
    At slowtheflow.org you can find out how often you should be watering your lawn every week and for how long.  This website looks at the previous and coming weeks weather forecast and makes the recommendations.  I check this every week to see how many times I should be watering my lawn. You can also request a free water check.  What is a water check?  A water check analyzes the efficiency of your automatic sprinkler irrigation system.  Trained evaluators come to your home and performs a water check and provides you with a customized irrigation schedule. Soil type, grassroot depth, water pressure, sprinkler efficiency and precipitation rates are also determined.  The entire process takes from 1 to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of the property.  I got mine order, and I can't wait to see what they have to say.  Oh, and this is a free service.
    Now, for all the jokes I heard from the team when I said I was writing about how to save water:
          -I save water by not showering.
          -I could just hose you off in the backyard!  That would be showering and watering the lawn at the same time.
          -The author didn't mention "if its yellow let it mellow"
          -Save water, drink beer!
          -And more, but seriously... they're not that funny... and neither is the drought, so let's Slow the Flow and keep our little corner of the planet happy, so we can keep playing on it!

    And don't forget, when you save water, you save money.

    UPDATE on Water Check by SlowTheFlow.org:

    To follow up on "Tips to: save Water save money " blog from the other week, there was an option for everyone to get a free water check.  The water check was to make sure your sprinkler system was working properly and efficiently.  As well as, let you know the type of soil, best way/  time to water, and measure the root length of your lawn.
    For my yard, I was informed that I have the soil of loam.  Loam soils retain water easily, but water does not enter it easily.  The most efficient way of watering for my yard is to have the sprinklers run for 5 minutes, 4 times per cycle.  This is not 5 minutes early morning, 5 minutes afternoon, 5 minutes early evening and then 5 minutes at night.  Instead of running my normal 20 minute cycle at 5:00 a.m., I would run the cycle at my normal water time (starts at 5am) and run 5-minute cycles, each for 4 cycles. Why would this combination be more effective than my current 20-minute cycle, since it's the same amount of time? I asked the same question... first and foremost is because of the soil type and secondly we have a hill in our front yard, causing a bit more runoff.  Watering 4 times will allow more water to seep into the ground than run off into the gutters.  Watering this way allows the soil to get saturated, go into the ground and then it will be able to hold more water after the sprinklers go through the other zones.  On the second, third, and fourth cycles more water enters the ground and goes deeper to allow the roots to go deeper making your lawn healthier.  If I can get my roots to go deeper into the ground, they can find moisture more easily.  The ground stays wetter the deeper you go once you are done watering, or after a rainstorm, since deeper in the ground, there is no wind or sun to speed up the evaporation.  The top two inches of soil dries out a lot faster with it being exposed to wind and the sun.  
    Another great thing that came out of the water check is another set of eyes looking over what sprinkler heads are working properly and which ones need adjustments.  I knew of one sprinkler that needed to be adjusted.  The water check let me know of 2 others and that there were multiple sprinkler heads that were partially clog.  Fixing or adjusting these 3 sprinklers will save water from being wasted.

    LAWN Watering Schedule:
    As for when to water, they gave me a chart that shows how many times a week you should be watering during the summer.   During the month of April, no need to be watering.  May requires once a week.  June calls for two to three times a week, depending on heat. This year with the heat wave in June, adjust the amount of time you water, instead of adding an extra day, due to the drought. July - three days a week.  August - adjust back to two days a week.  September, water once a week and to round out the year, no need to water in October. (This schedule is for your lawn. For your landscaping watering schedule, see below.) 

    For your landscaping, it goes like this:
    April-May: No water needed
    June: Once/ week
    July: Twice/ week
    August: Once. week
    September-October: No watering
    This is based on a 20-minute cycle.  Obviously if your lawn or plants are looking dry and or are dying, give it a little bit more water.  Best time to water is when the sun is asleep.  I asked about if its better at 9pm, 2am or 5am to water.  They told me it didn't matter and in Utah being so dry lawns don't get fungus or other diseases that other places do if you water too early in the night. 
    Another way to get the most out of your watering schedule is the length you cut your lawn.  The shorter you cut it the more water it needs to stay green.  Raise your mower up a notch or two and it will keep your grass blades a little longer, allowing the grass to hold onto more water.  
    Hopefully this is helpful and that we can work together to save water.  I know cities along the Wasatch Front are making rules of how much and when you can water.  Lehi is thinking about making it a rule you cannot water back-to-back days.  With fines up to $500 after three times of breaking that rule.  Gov. Cox stated this last week to "make yellow lawns great again" He also tightened fireworks restriction and even campfires in camping spots.  Pineview water system customers might not have an option to even water their lawns come August 1st.  Pineview reservoir is so low that if the residents don't do their part in conserving water that they won't have an option to water after Aug. 1st.  

    So, together we can help save water, prevent fires, and keep having fun in our great outdoors. Let me know if you have any questions or helpful tips to share.