Water Authority urges early conservation planning as the days get longer and warmer

Short Title
Water Authority urges early conservation planning as the days get longer and warmer
Preparation now can save water throughout the summer
March 23, 2005

Spring has arrived and daylight savings time is just ahead. Despite all the rain this season, the San Diego County Water Authority reminds county residents that we live in a desert where water conservation is a way of life. Now is the time to begin water conservation efforts in preparation for more daylight and warmer weather.

“Home irrigation systems should have been turned off for the last several weeks because of all the rain,” said Bill Jacoby, Water Authority water resources manager. “This is an ideal time to test your irrigation systems for leaks, breaks and misaligned sprinkler heads to ensure your system operates at peak efficiency when it’s time to turn it back on.”

Studies have shown that annually, almost 50 percent of San Diego County’s residential water is used for landscaping. Over-watering can be as damaging to vegetation as under-watering. The Water Authority recommends testing of soil moisture to avoid watering landscape before it is needed.

“Check for moisture by taking a soil sample and rolling or squeezing it into a ball in your hand. If it forms a ball, rub it with your thumb. If it doesn’t crumble, it contains enough moisture to supply water to your plants,” said Jacoby. “When it won’t form into a ball or crumbles, it’s time to turn your irrigation system on again. Sandy soils are the exception as they will always crumble, even when wet.”

The Water Authority also recommends homeowners replace the back-up battery in their irrigation controller when they change their clocks to daylight savings time. When batteries are depleted and electrical power is lost, systems may revert to a default watering cycle resulting in over watering.

“If the batteries fail, irrigation systems will over-water, often without the homeowner even being aware of it,” said Jacoby. “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.”

The Landscape Calculator on the Water Authority Web site at www.sdcwa.org assists homeowners in determining watering requirements for their landscape. By answering a few brief questions (ZIP code, type of landscape, type of watering method), the calculator provides a monthly watering schedule specific to the different areas of your yard for anywhere in San Diego County.

Homeowners can call (800) 986-4538 for a free landscape survey 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. City of San Diego customers must first have a landscape survey before qualifying for the new controllers. Weather-based controllers automatically adjust the amount and frequency of watering based on

weather conditions, reducing water costs by as much as 20 percent. The Water Authority’s Smart Landscape program provides residential water customers with a voucher incentive of $65.00 for each weather-based irrigation controller that they install.

To qualify for a voucher, customers of participating San Diego County water agencies must have a minimum of 2,000 square feet of irrigated landscaping, an existing irrigation controller and an in-ground irrigation system. Once qualified, customers redeem vouchers like a coupon at the time of purchase, with participating on-line manufacturers, wholesale and retail suppliers and through landscape contractors throughout San Diego County.

For more information on water conservation, visit the San Diego County Water Authority Web site at www.sdcwa.org or contact your local water agency.

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