Monday, April 13, 2015

Schools and parks welcome automatic water savings

By Brook Beeler, communication manager eastern region

We have heard the word a lot.


As communities’ awareness of water use is heightened this year, it’s important to note we have been forging partnerships and making progress on wise water use in Washington. 

We work with the Washington Conservation Commission on large-scale agriculture projects through the irrigation efficiencies grant program. In partnership with local conservation districts financial incentives are offered to landowners willing to install irrigation systems that save water. The water saved helps keep water in rivers to benefit other instream resources such as fish habitat.

In urban and suburban environments households use more water outdoors than most American homes use for showering and washing clothes combined. Facilities with large areas of maintained landscape, such as schools, can use as much as 30 percent of their water to maintain the health and quality of the landscape.

We are working to change that with a grant project in Spokane County to upgrade public park, school and cemetery irrigation systems.  More efficient irrigation equipment provides the opportunity for significant water savings.

The Spokane Conservation District has used a $130,000 grant to upgrade irrigation systems at three locations; three more will be completed this spring. The district performed audits of each irrigation system and recommended site-specific changes to improve water efficiency at:
Tekoa Elementary staff lugged hoses out onto the grass. A new
upgraded irrigation system will save time, money and water.
Photo courtesy Spokane Conservation District.

          ·         Tekoa Elementary School
    ·         Fairfield Upper Park
    ·         Latah Memorial Park
    ·         Latah Town Park
    ·         Rockford Rodeo Grounds
    ·         Rockford Arena

Many of the locations were battling old leaky pipes, no timers and in a few cases maintenance staff still lugged hoses around.

One change all locations received is an Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense labeled smart controller. These controllers collect on-site rainfall data and use historical weather data to automatically adjust sprinklers to only water for current needs.

The water use data isn't in yet, but statistics show that as much as half of water is wasted due to inefficient irrigation systems and practices. We believe the small investment will go a long way for water savings.

What can you do? Take some advice from the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program
By following some simple steps, you can have a water-smart landscape that's beautiful, healthy, and easy to maintain:
  1. Design a water-smart landscape that is both beautiful and efficient to give your home the curb appeal     you desire. 
  2. Timing is everything! Knowing when and how much to water allows you to keep a healthy landscape.
  3. Upgrade to a WaterSense labeled controller if you have an in-ground irrigation system.
  4. Learn how an irrigation professional certified by a WaterSense labeled program can install, maintain, or audit your irrigation system to ensure it is operating efficiently while using less water.
  5. When you’re ready, find a pro who can get the job done.
  6. Visit WaterSense's Water–Smart Landscape Photo Gallery for stunning real-world examples of water-smart landscapes in your region. You can even submit your own!

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