Prepare now for summer water conservation

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Water Conservation
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Article courtesy of Mark Van Wagoner | February 15, 2014 | Daily Herald | Shared as educational material

Water conservation summer

Here we are midway to spring and with the forecasted temps these next several days, it’s feeling more and more like March.

It was nice to bask in Springtime sun at midwinter, the long awaited snow storms are starting to come rolling in from the Northwest and are backed up like a lineup of aircraft approaching the Salt Lake airport, and they couldn’t be more welcomed. Still, it appears we are in for another dry year ahead. If so, gardening this year will require some creative planning.

With water restrictions possible, the size of your garden may depend on how much water you are allowed or can afford to use. Whether you rely on a municipal water system or a well, one thing is for sure: Water supply will be limited.

You and I both know, and it has been common knowledge for almost 200 years, that we live in a desert. But if you were to do a little research, you would find that Utah is one of the highest water users in the country.

So, where is all the water going, and how is it being used?

Look around you, look at all the golf courses, parks, schools, municipal landscapes and many other types of green areas. Look at the excessive amounts of water used by car washes and people washing their driveways and sidewalks. How about people who let the water run when they brush their teeth, or are washing and rinsing the dishes. There are also those people who don’t manage their sprinkler systems, and who flood-irrigate their gardens.

We have a very valuable commodity available to us in the form of H2O. What are we doing to conserve it?

What is your method of garden watering? Is it a hose, soaker hose, flood irrigation, drip irrigation, oscillating sprinkler? Are your watering schedules timed, or do you use the old standby method of guessing? Is it hooked up to your sprinkler timers? Do you have a battery-operated timer, or do you just put the water on your garden and then try and remember to move it every so often?

I’m a huge advocate of conserving or saving our precious resource of water. Everything I have mentioned in my article today, I would hope you would take as serious as I. If we don’t do something about our water usage and wasteful practices, we won’t be doing too much gardening or raising our own food or caring for the animals. Many times, while driving around Utah Valley, I have witnessed people spraying down their driveways and sidewalks, standing with a hose in hand watering their lawns, and shrubs and trees. Now I don’t stop and see how long they are in the same spot watering with that hose, but I could almost surmise that their watering techniques aren’t that effective. Granted, I understand that there are people out there who can’t afford a sprinkler system, though if they were able to calculate just how much water they are really using, they really could afford a sprinkler system.

I remember a time when I lived out in the Uintah Basin, we were experiencing a horrible drought. It got so bad that the city had some of their water works employees out issuing tickets to people misusing the watering times. The fines were pretty hefty, and though it made a lot of people furious, the city sent a very clear and stern message, “Do your part, slow the flow and save the H2O.”

We can certainly all do our part in helping to protect this very important resource. I hope this year we can be a lot more careful in how we use our water.

As far as water use in the garden, I am a huge fan of one particular watering method called drip irrigation. This is a system where the materials used are precision laser cut slits in the drip tape that only waters where the plant is. It’s very, very accurate in its water applications. This method eliminates excessive water from being wasted, from watering where water shouldn’t be applied, in the middle of the rows or around the edges of the garden. It helps to knock down the weed infestation in your garden from flood or sprinkler irrigation. Drip irrigation is very inexpensive to install. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to lay it out and install. And I have the perfect place for you to get everything you need for a successful garden.

There’s a place on North Main Street in Spanish Fork, just north of Nature’s Sunshine, where I like to buy all of my sprinkler and watering supplies for my garden. The name of the place is Sprinkler Supply, located at 116 W. 1900 North, just behind Dickerson Automotive. Go in and ask for Ryan or Edwin and tell them that I sent you; they may even give you a 10-15 percent discount on all your sprinkler supplies. They carry all the fittings, tubing, poly pipe and drip tape you’ll need to get your garden set up.

Having the right equipment and watering system will not only save you a lot of money, but also will help to save on water usage as well.

When I set systems up for people, I like to use a 3/4 black thin-walled poly tubing for my header. I use a 1/8 to 1/4 spaghetti tubing for my water supply tube to the drip tape. At both ends of the drip tape I use a simple method of folding the flat drip tape over two to three times and then slide a piece of the drip tape overtop as a sleeve to hold it in the folded position. Or you can purchase a nifty fitting that fits into the 3/4 poly tubing and twists onto the drip tape. Sounds kind of complicated, but trust me, it’s not. Plus, Ryan and Edwin are very knowledgeable at what they do.

After the system is all set up, I turn it on to make sure it all works properly, and then I sit back and watch the plants thrive as the season progresses. With a system like this, you’re destined to be the talk of the neighborhood. I hope that you will take a serious part in helping to save on one of the most needed resources provided by Mother Nature: water. Let’s all take an active role in reminding one another of our responsibility to be cautious about our water usage.

If you have any questions about any of the items discussed in this week’s column, or have some nifty water-saving techniques you’d like to share, please email me at mark.vanwagoner@nebo.edu. Until next time, come see me in the greenhouse.

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