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The Madera Tribune

Cut back on landscape watering

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webmaster | 01/31/14

The rain that fell yesterday was lovely to look at and delightful to walk in, even though it had quit by noon. Unfortunately, that rain, and the foot or so of snow that fell in the mountains, did not break the drought.

Like it or not, we are going to have to start seriously conserving water. By “we,” I mean those of us who live in the towns and cities. Farmers, for whom water is input for their products, already know they have to conserve water. Most farmers who irrigate already have invested in dry-climate irrigation technology, such as drip systems. They pay a lot for water, and know they have to get the most from every drop.

City folks, on the other hand, have different uses for water. Naturally, we want to take showers and baths, run our dishwashers, flush our toilets, wash our clothes and brush our teeth. But all those activities, unless we have large families with lots of kids, don’t really use all that much. Where we waste water is on our landscapes, and this is especially true of those of us who have sprinkling systems.

I’m not sure what percentage of domestic water runs down the gutter from poorly aimed sprinkling systems, but it must be plenty. We insist on having green lawns year-round, but we could save a lot of water if we would let them go dormant in the winter. Lawn irrigation spills plenty of water into gutters because too much water is being sprayed.

Water experts say that if urbanites would turn off their sprinkling systems and water their sensitive plants with a hose and nozzle, aiming carefully so water didn’t run down the streets, we could save as much as 70 percent of domestic water. Also, if more drought-tolerant plants were used, instead of thirsty grass, we could see even more savings.

The city has rules we need to follow to save water. But we also need to stop irrigating our yards, or do it smarter.


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