Check your irrigation system for water savings

Many homeowners believe an automatic (or in-ground) irrigation system is the most efficient way to water. In theory this is true; but, in practice, it’s often not the case. A badly designed, or poorly maintained, system can waste a lot of water. The fact is, 24 per cent of Okanagan water is used by residents on their lawns and gardens. Outdoor watering is where we can have the biggest impact on our water consumption.

Many homeowners believe an automatic (or in-ground) irrigation system is the most efficient way to water.  In theory this is true; but, in practice, it’s often not the case.  A badly designed, or poorly maintained, system can waste a lot of water. The fact is, 24 per cent of Okanagan water is used by residents on their lawns and gardens.  Outdoor watering is where we can have the biggest impact on our water consumption.

Irrigation experts estimate homeowners can reduce outdoor watering needs by 25 per cent just by keeping up with irrigation system maintenance and setting the timer properly.  If you’re on consumption-based billing, this could also mean savings to your wallet.

So, how do you know if your system is operating efficiently?  The first step is to do a basic walk- through of your system.  Turn on each zone for three to four minutes and look for these specific things:

Where You Water: Make sure sprinklers heads are not watering your driveway or sidewalk, but watering where it is intended, on vegetation.

Broken Sprinkler Heads:  Sprinkler heads are susceptible to damage, and since most people run their systems while they sleep, broken heads often go unnoticed. Inspect your system and replace broken sprinkler heads.

Distribution Uniformity: A perfect irrigation system would deliver water evenly across your landscape.  But wind, slopes, mismatched sprinkler heads and pressure changes can make some areas too wet and other areas too dry.   If you have a persistent brown spot on your lawn, it could be the result of poor water distribution.  The solution is to fix the system in that zone, not increase the amount that you water.

Mixed Sprinkler Heads: Rotating spray heads move in an arc. Fixed spray heads do not move. Obviously, a fixed head will deliver more water in one spot over time than a rotating head. Ensure that you do not have rotating and fixed heads watering the same zone.

Landscape Changes: Inefficiencies can occur when changes are made to landscapes over time, without also making adjustments to the irrigation system. As a result, there may be areas where some sprinkler heads could be replaced with a drip system or even eliminated entirely.

Next, look at your timer.  Timing should be adjusted to the microclimates of your yard: shady areas need less water, moss and excessive thatch are signs of over-watering.  A good rule of thumb is 20 minutes maximum per zone.  In most cases, any more than that and the water is simply wasted since it has already reached the roots.  Also, water between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to prevent evaporation.

People often ask if they should water every other day, every third day, or on some other schedule.  The reality is you should water only when your lawn needs it, and that can change depending on where you live in the Okanagan, the unique characteristics of your yard, and the season.  Consult with a landscaping or irrigation professional for assistance, and to check your system periodically to ensure it is operating at maximum efficiency. Visit the Irrigation Industry Association of B.C. website for tips on choosing an irrigation contractor and a listing of certified professionals in your area (www.irrigationbc.com/Resources/Selecting-A-Contractor).

Finally, consider changing some of your lawn to drought-tolerant turf or removing some lawn in exchange for low-water, xeriscape plants.

Check out City of Kelowna’s Water Smart page at www.kelowna.ca/watersmart for more information on irrigation system efficiency.

For more on Okanagan WaterWise, visit www.okwaterwise.ca.

Okanagan WaterWise is an initiative of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

 

 

Neal Klassen is the WaterSmart co-ordinator for the City of Kelowna.

 

Just Posted

Fire crews investigating oil sheen on Penticton Creek

Fire crews are working to contain the oil from spreading

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

A proactive approach to the housing crisis

City staff are recommending Penticton help prepare affordable housing proposals

Summerland’s Justin Kripps completes first double-medal weekend of career

High-powered Canadian bobsledders celebrate four-man silver at World Cup in Igls

Frank Venables Theatre recipient of Canada Cultural Spaces Grant

The Franks Venables Theatre in Oliver has some new gear, thanks to… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

B.C. concert promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows

A man was witnessed making a Nazi salute during a heavy metal show at Pub 340

EDITORIAL: Putting #MeToo to work in your workplace

Workers from top to bottom need to stand together against the bully of sexual harassment

Most Read