By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – With summer in full swing, July and August are peak months for water use in Oklahoma City, putting excess demand on the system. As a result, the City wants to remind residents of the permanent odd-even watering schedule implemented in 2013.
Customers with an address ending in an odd number may use sprinklers on odd-numbered calendar days. Customers with an even-numbered address number may use sprinklers on even-numbered days.
“About 30 percent of residential water used in the summer is for watering outdoors,” said Water Conservation Specialist Malarie Gotcher. “Our odd-even schedule helps ensure we can continue to meet system demand, especially as temperatures near the 100s.”
Water violations can be reported to the Action Center by visiting okc.gov/action.
For some residents, a lot of water is wasted if sprinkler systems aren’t running properly. Learning to water efficiently can keep lawns green while keeping water bills down.
“It’s very common for people using sprinklers to ‘set it and forget it.’ Then a surprise comes with an unusually high water bill, or realizing they’ve been watering the street or sidewalk because they forgot to check their system,” said Gotcher.
To help residents use water wisely, here are a few tips from the City’s water conservation staff.
Conduct a sprinkler check-up. People who water overnight might not notice a broken sprinkler head or misdirected spray. That’s where a sprinkler checkup comes in handy. To check your system, run through each zone and look for issues such as bubbling water, or broken or sunken heads. Mark the areas where you find problems, then make any adjustments or repairs as quickly as possible.
Perform a pressure check. Automatic sprinkler systems that aren’t pressurized correctly can waste about 30 percent of the water put out due to evaporation. Most residential sprinkler systems work best at 30 to 45 psi (pounds per square inch). This ensures that each sprinkler head is watering right where it needs to. Heads that run with low pressure might not cover the area where water is needed. Heads that run with high pressure will cause the water to mist or fog. This often results in evaporation, and less water reaches the grass and soil where it’s needed. To correct pressure issues, consider installing pressure-regulated heads or call a local irrigation expert for other options.
Know how much water your lawn needs. The most common turfgrass, bermudagrass, doesn’t need more than one inch of water per week, even during the hottest months of the year. For this type of grass, a deep watering once or twice per week is enough to keep the soil moist and encourage a strong root system. To see how long it takes to water one inch, place a rain gauge or tuna can in areas you need to water. Turn on the water and see how long it takes for 1/2 inch of water to collect in the can. Multiply that time by two, which is the time you will need to run that zone each week.
Don’t water during the daytime. Up to 50 percent of water used for daytime irrigation can be wasted. Watering during the heat of the day can cause water to evaporate before it reaches the grass. It can also cause sun scald on some grass types. To save water, irrigate in the early morning when it’s still dark and the air temperature is cooler.
Avoid run-off. Heavy clay soils and long runtimes can lead to water runoff. Water running into the street can carry fertilizers and pesticides into the City’s storm water system which drains straight to our local creeks and streams. Avoid water run-off by using the “cycle and soak” method two times per day. Instead of one long soak, consider running your system once in the early morning hours and once again in the late evening to give the water just enough time for it to soak into the soil so plant roots can use it.
Consider a “smart” irrigation controller. Today’s irrigation controllers offer advanced technology that can cut down on water waste. These systems can include sensors that automatically adjust watering schedules by monitoring soil moisture levels or local weather conditions. Many can be managed using smartphone apps, which puts the control right at customers’ fingertips.
For more watering tips, including a sprinkler check-up guide, visit squeezeeverydrop.com.