We have a water problem. Too often sprinkler controllers are set and forgotten; not adjusted when the weather changes. A lot of water is beng wasted. When the EPA says landscapes are often watered with twice the needed water, people don't believe it. Plus they fear that cutting back on water use will hurt their landsacape.
There is a lot we can talk about with these four simple words.
Let me start with Marian Webster has to say:
Know - "to have understanding"
When - "at what time"
To - ".. a function word to indicate an action...."
Water - "to moisten, sprinkle, or soak with water
If we take the word "know" out of the phrase, the idea is simple "at what time do we take action to moisten with water?" Most sprinkler controllers don't know when to water, they are programmed to come on a set a time. Standard sprinkler controllers do not understand the plant's need for water. That four letter word "know" makes all the difference. Without knowing when to water we will either waste water or stress plants.
You may not believe this story, but it’s true. A business colleague called me a couple weeks ago about a commercial landscape project he was involved with. To save water, the landscape was to be watered with a water truck. No sprinkler system was to be installed. When the contractor ran a five year cost projection, it was going to cost $150,000.00 more to use a water truck than to put in a sprinkler system and pay for the water. The explanation given to the contractor was, less water would be used because they would only bring in the water truck when the plants needed water.
I am not talking about your skin; I am talking about the lawn. Nobody likes dry spots. Typical fix; run the sprinklers longer. Stop - Wait - Think. How big is the dry spot? Most of the time, dry spots people worry about are small, probably less than 5% of the overall area. It reminds me of my wife at piano recitals; she can hear the one missed note. I am glad to hear all the right notes. OK Let me get back on task. Think about the other 95% of the lawn, it looks great, lush, green and healthy. What is the typical fix? Run the sprinklers longer. So what you are telling me is we should over water 95% of the lawn to keep the little dry spot green.
Water districts expect us to conserve water. Customers are complaining about high water bills. But our #1 job is to keep the landscape looking healthy and green. So how do we do it? Improving irrigation efficiency is the job for a water manager.
May I suggest water conservation and efficient water use starts by looking for waste? Plants need water. If water used to irrigate does not benefit the plant, it is wasted. Our job as water managers is to look for and eliminate wasted water while making sure plants get enough water to be healthy and beautiful.
Irrigation systems have come a long way from the old days of flooding the area with water. There is still more we can do to eliminate waste. Let me share a few ideas of things you can look for that waste water and the steps you can take to reduce waste.