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Time to turn back the clocks and turn down the sprinkler systems
Water Authority urges reduction in fall landscape watering
October 24, 2005
The days are getting shorter and the weather cooler. Shorter days mean shorter watering times. In the autumn, lawns and gardens throughout the San Diego region need less water. As San Diegans prepare to set their clocks back Oct. 30, the San Diego County Water Authority and local water districts recommend that as customers change their clocks to “fall back” one hour, they also “fall back” on watering times. Homeowners, gardeners and landscape contractors are encouraged to conserve water and save money on water bills by adjusting residential and commercial irrigation systems to reduce watering times and days.
“Homeowners should be cutting back on their watering as days grow shorter and the sun’s intensity decreases,” said Vickie Driver, principal water resources specialist for the Water Authority. “Not only will this produce significant water savings for the region, but it will also be better for landscapes and help reduce water bills.”
Landscape watering accounts for almost 50 percent of San Diego County’s residential water use. Over-watering, which occurs mostly during the fall season, can be as damaging to vegetation as under-watering.
Homeowners should begin now to gradually cut back watering times by approximately 10 percent every three weeks until winter rains arrive. As they reduce water times, they should continually monitor soil moisture to prevent stress. Stress is recognized as wilting and/or a lack of luster in leaves or blades of grass.
“Check for moisture by taking a soil sample and rolling or squeezing it into a ball in your hand. If it won’t form into a ball, it’s probably too dry,” said Driver. “If it forms a ball, rub it with your thumb. If it doesn’t crumble, it contains enough moisture to supply water to plants. Sandy soils are the exception as they will always crumble, even when wet.”
By watering in the evening or early morning, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. when there is less wind and evaporation, homeowners can save water. The Landscape Calculator at www.sdcwa.org/conservation will assist homeowners in determining watering requirements for their landscape.
A free landscape survey is available to homeowners by calling (800) 986-4538 or (619) 570-1999 if their home is located in the city of San Diego. Homeowners also can call the 800-number to determine if they qualify for a weather-based irrigation controller voucher. Weather-based controllers automatically adjust the amount and frequency of watering based on weather conditions, reducing water costs by as much as 20 percent.
It is also recommended that the batteries in irrigation controllers be replaced at this time. When clock batteries are depleted, systems may revert to daily watering cycles resulting in over watering.
“Just as changing the batteries in your smoke detectors has become routine with the time change, homeowners should install fresh batteries in their irrigation clocks,” said Driver. “If the batteries fail, irrigation systems will over-water, often without the homeowner even being aware of it.”
For more information on water conservation, visit the San Diego County Water Authority website at www.sdcwa.org/conservation or contact your local water agency.
Fall Water Wise Conservation
H Did you know that approximately 50 percent of residential water use in San Diego County is outdoor landscaping, more than 58 billion gallons every year.
H Plants, lawns and gardens require less water in the fall and winter months when days become shorter. In fact, over watering actually damages landscapes by preventing air from reaching the roots.
H If you are still using your summer watering schedule now is the time to cut back.
H Beginning in October, as daylight hours become shorter and the sun’s intensity decreases, homeowners should begin cut back on their watering times. Reduce your cycle by 10 percent every three weeks until winter rains arrive, but be sure to maintain proper soil moisture.
H Use the percent adjust key on your timer. Visit the Watering Index at www.bewaterwise.com.
H Watering only between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. helps reduce demand for water during the day.
H When it is raining, turn your irrigation system off.
H Your watering requirements can be determined by utilizing the Landscape Calculator at http://apps.sandiego.gov/landcalc/.
H Upgrade the irrigation system to include new, high-efficiency equipment. For information go to: www.sdcwa.org/manage/ and click on “Conservation” and “Smart Landscape”
H Check for moisture by taking a soil sample and rolling or squeezing it into a ball in your hand. If it won’t form into a ball, it’s probably too dry. If it forms a ball, rub it with your thumb. If it doesn’t crumble, it contains enough moisture to supply water to vegetation. Sandy soils are the exception, as they will always crumble when wet.
H Watch lawns and plants for signs of stress such as wilting or a lack of luster in leaves or blades of grass.
H The Water Authority and your local water districts are asking everyone to practice “Shorter Days, Shorter Watering Times.” If you have questions about the effects of reduced irrigation on your specific plants or landscape, contact a professional at your local nursery.
H Make sure your irrigation system and controller are working properly. Fix all leaks and broken heads and adjust to prevent runoff.
H Replace batteries in irrigation controllers twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
H Residents can make a stronger commitment to indoor water conservation by:
H Turning off the water when brushing teeth or shaving
H Taking shorter showers
H Wash full loads of clothes
H Run the dishwasher only when full
H Check faucets and toilets for leaks and fix them promptly
For more information on water conservation, visit the San Diego County Water Authority Web site at www.sdcwa.org/conservation or your contact local water agency.
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