Ways to Reduce Water Usage on Your Property
Late summer and early autumn are typically the hottest times of the year for southern California. Fall is also one of the driest times of the year. Although the drought in southern California has officially ended, measures should still be taken to reduce water usage on your properties. These measures should include steps to not only reduce the amount of water used, but also maximize the effectiveness of the irrigation system and the amount of money spent to irrigate these properties.
Here are five ways to reduce the water usage on your property:
Perform Routine Maintenance
Routine inspections of irrigation systems and meter readings should be performed. Each station of the system should be run to make sure there are no breaks, pressure issues, or runoff. Ensure all components of the system are working properly (valves, heads, etc). Perform meter readings weekly to monitor any fluctuations in water usage. Spikes in usage indicate leaks or possible breaks somewhere in the system. By monitoring routinely, issues can be identified and repaired much sooner.
Utilize Drought-Tolerant Landscaping
Many popular plants and ground cover are water-demanding, requiring watering more frequently and in larger amounts. Consider replacing these plants with drought-tolerant alternatives. Another option is to use mulch, boulders, or native plants as ground cover, or even consider eliminating ground cover in many cases.
Practice Alternative Irrigation Methods
Typical irrigation methods like traditional sprinkler heads are sufficient but often dispense water outside the targeted area due to their wide arcing spray. This can lead to runoff and evaporation and increases the amount of water used to some degree. Consider using alternative forms of irrigation such as a drip or micro spray irrigation which gets water more directly to the targeted area. Driplines are commonly used in narrow areas in parking lots and along walkways. As with any irrigation, there are pros and cons when using a drip type system. Traditional spray heads are still considered much easier to maintain than drip from a maintenance point of view and can be water efficient if utilized effectively.
Another alternative method is known as “fertigation,” which combines fertilization and irrigation. Traditional fertilizer requires soaking of granules on application which leads to runoff and excessive water usage. Fertigation delivers a small amount of fertilizer to plants through a drip irrigation system each time the system is turned on. Finally, consider using rotary sprinkler heads which are slow volume, multi-directional sprinkler heads. These decrease water distribution by delivering water at a slower rate which allows for less runoff and increased absorption. These sprinkler heads are best used on landscapes with dense soil and slopes. With these rotary type heads, irrigation time does need to be increased for best results. You aren’t necessarily using more water, it just takes longer to distribute it since the nozzle puts out the water at a lesser rate.
There is a plethora of technologically advanced equipment available today to help minimize water usage. One option is to install smart controllers with precipitation sensors. These sensors will notify the system of rainfall and prevent the system from running during or immediately after the rain storm. Another option is to install water flow sensors. These sensors trigger alerts when unusually high levels of water are being expelled from the system. The system can then be inspected to identify the cause of the issue.
Consider Sustainable Water Features
Sustainable water features are growing in popularity, whether it be a courtyard fountain or a golf course feature like water hazards, waterfalls, and streams. These designs increase the options for reduced water consumption and the cost of operation while also increasing sustainability for the properties. Water features can be powerful place-making attractions in a project, signature elements anchoring public spaces and advancing the narrative of a place. Some designs utilize recycled water which reduces the overall water usage and decreases water costs by reusing water rather than consistently requiring a steady water supply. Some of these features can also collect and repurpose rainwater to reduce reliance on a fresh water supply. Finally, some of these features can be incorporated into the HVAC system of the property which helps reduce cooling costs and serves as a quasi “cooling tower” for the system.
By utilizing the latest technology in water management and implementing the steps outlined here, Benchmark can help you reduce water usage and associated costs with improved irrigation systems, proper plant selection and placement, and ongoing best maintenance practices. Contact your Account Manager to get started.