Thanks, Virginia Hayes, for an excellent article on ”Smart Irrigation”. While it is widely accepted that 50 to 80 percent of all residential water goes to landscape irrigation, what is less frequently mentioned is that up to 50 percent or more of that water is wasted. It is wasted by broken or poorly adjusted systems, especially by irrigating plants with more water than they actually need. This overuse often results in runoff or the percolation of water to soil depths far below where the plant roots can get it. This excess water has been known to carry toxic chemicals and bacteria into our creeks, groundwater, and the ocean.
Why would citizens of this environmentally-enlightened community waste water? Most people, including many landscape professionals, decide how much and how often to water by the seat of their pants. The result is — more often than not — overwatering. Irrigation systems are often operated by automatic controllers, which, unless properly programmed and monitored, will overwater landscapes on a regular basis and usually at night when runoff sneaks off unnoticed.
One would think that, even if people didn’t notice water waste in their gardens, they would notice it on their water bills. The fact is that local residents pay somewhere between one half to three quarters of a cent for one gallon of potable water. At that price, what is the financial incentive to save or even to take water seriously? It’s Smart Irrigation Month. Get to know your irrigation system or hire a professional for advice. The math and technology for irrigating more efficiently are available. Do it now before the next drought and before those water rates start to go up.