Tool Tackles Water Waste

Posted in: Drought, United States Water News, Water Conservation, Water Technology
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Caitlyn Jones “Denton Record-Chronicle”

Article courtesy of Caitlyn Jones | August 15, 2015 | DentonRC | Shared as educational material

Dry brown grass is part of the fallout from any Texas summer, but getting a lush green landscape might not take as much effort as many think, with the help of a tool which tackles water waste.

The Upper Trinity Regional Water District recently launched a Web-based tool called Water My Yard in conjunction with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Developed and managed by AgriLife, the program will help Denton County residents figure out how much is too much when it comes to watering their lawns.

“About 80 percent of all our purchased water is used outdoors,” said Jason Pierce, watershed and contract services manager for the water district. “Roughly 50 percent of that is wasted because of watering concrete, broken sprinkler heads or just overwatering.”

Despite an unusually wet spring, North Texas is once again classified as “abnormally dry,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Matt Stalley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said it has been 39 days since rain fell in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The last measured rainfall was on July 8.

“A few southeastern counties have already gone into a moderate drought,” Stalley said. “That’s a possibility here, but we’re entering the winter season shortly, so hopefully El Niño will get to us,” he said.

But with no rain in the immediate future, water conservation remains a top priority in the sizzling summer months.

“I tell people to always act like we’re in a drought,” said David Annis, AgriLife’s Denton County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. “Odds are we won’t see rain like what we had for a while, so let’s conserve what we’ve got.”

The first step on Water My Yard asks users to input their address to make sure they’re in the service area. Upper Trinity supplies wholesale water services to 25 entities in Denton County and parts of Collin and Dallas counties.

Even though Denton maintains its own water supply, the program recognizes addresses within the city limits.

After receiving an address, the site will ask for a precipitation rate of the user’s irrigation system. A resident can figure this out by measuring water collected in a catch can when the sprinklers run.

If residents don’t know that information, the program will ask for the type of sprinkler system they use, the manufacturer of the system and how far apart the sprinkler heads are.

When all the information is filled out, the site generates a water recommendation for the current week. On a typical yard, Pierce recommends watering twice a week, and only when needed.

“Even during a dry season, it only takes about three-fourths of an inch to keep your lawn healthy,” he said.

The water recommendations are based on the previous week’s weather information from two weather stations — one in Lewisville and another in Providence Village. Rainfall, wind and temperatures are taken into account.

The city of Denton doesn’t have limitations on what days residents can water their lawns, but watering between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. is prohibited.

Annis said that while Denton County maintains solid conservation efforts, there’s always room for improvement.

“When you see people watering their yard and half of the water hits the sidewalk, you think, ‘Why don’t you just tighten that sprinkler head?’” Annis said. “Concrete just doesn’t germinate that well.”

Site users can sign up to receive weekly recommendations through email or text message. Pierce said quite a few residents have taken advantage of the program.

“This is another simple tool that can be extremely useful,” he said. “We just want to make sure people are using water wisely.”

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