NEWS

Avoid high water bills by checking sprinkler systems now

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With temperatures rising, many Oklahoma City residents will turn their attention to their lawns and gardens.

“The majority of our customers’ high water bill concerns are caused by automatic sprinkler systems and leaks,” said Malarie Gotcher, with the City’s water conservation team. “Easy maintenance now can help prevent high water bills later.”

Officials say in order to save on your water bill, you should check your sprinkler system to make sure it is set correctly, and to double check for leaks.

“Understanding how your sprinkler system works so it waters efficiently is key in cutting down on excess water use,” said Gotcher. “Many sprinkler systems use 15 to 30 gallons per minute or even more, so high run times can add up quickly on a customer’s bill. And after February’s freeze, there are likely a lot of unresolved issues that need to be fixed.”

Look for issues

Get some marker flags at the hardware store, then run through each zone on your sprinkler system and visually look for common issues such as bubbling water, broken or sunken heads, misdirected heads that are spraying onto fences or driveways, excessive runoff, and water on fences and concrete. Mark the areas where problems occur, and make necessary adjustments or repairs quickly.

Perform a pressure check

Sprinkler systems running at high pressure means more water flowing and less water reaching the soil where plants need it. Most residential sprinkler systems work best at 30 to 45 psi (pounds per square inch). Heads with low or high pressure might not cover the area where water is needed. To correct pressure issues, install 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 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 1/4 inch of water to collect in the can. Multiply that time by four, which is the time you will need to run that zone each week.

Don’t water during the daytime

Up to 50% of water used to irrigate during the daytime 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. 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’ sprinkler controller

Many sprinkler controllers now offer high-tech options to cut down on water waste. This includes sensors that can automatically adjust watering schedules by monitoring soil moisture levels or local weather conditions. But remember, a smart controller won’t fix a dumb sprinkler system, leaks and broken heads can still add up.

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