The WaterSense Current: Winter 2021
In This Issue:
- Fall in Love with Your Better Yard
- Take the 10-Minute Challenge to Stop Leaks at Home
- Spring into Water Savings With a Sprinkler Spruce-Up
- Taking Water Efficiency to New Heights in Northern Colorado
- The City of Aspen Receives Mountains of Recognition
Looking for a reason to fall in love with your landscape without wasting water? It’s time to find your better yard. Up to half of the water we use outdoors could be wasted due to evaporation, wind, and runoff from overwatering. Find the landscape, irrigation technologies, and watering tips to fit your lifestyle, and you’ll save time, effort, and water. For example, are you an avid gardener who enjoys growing your own vegetables? Are you a pet owner whose dog loves to dig up sprinkler heads to plant bones? Or maybe you prefer a low-maintenance landscape? Whatever your lifestyle, there are WaterSense labeled products and water-saving solutions to help you achieve a beautiful—and functional—yard. Plus, you’ll swoon over your lower water bills!
Maintaining a beautiful, functional landscape doesn’t have to require a lot of watering, time, and money if you use the right strategies and equipment. Choose drought-tolerant plants that are native to your locality for your landscape design. Not only do these plants look beautiful, they require less supplemental irrigation outside of normal rainfall—meaning a great-looking yard without a lot of effort. Boost curb appeal by adding mulch around flowers and bushes. Mulch helps reduce evaporation, which allows soil to retain water longer so that plants require less frequent watering. Mulch also helps plants thrive by inhibiting weed growth, preventing soil erosion, and moderating soil temperature. You may even want to consider mulching high-traffic areas - like the area around play equipment - instead of using turf. Mulching will make these spaces more functional while saving water by reducing the need for irrigation.
Raised flowerbeds are a great option for those who love to garden but have a smaller landscape space. Simplify your watering by grouping plant beds into hydrozones based on similar irrigation needs. Using a form of microirrigation will ensure water is delivered directly to the root zones of your plants and boost plant health, while you gather a bouquet of water savings.
If you love smart technology and hate having to think about when and how much to water, a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller connected to your smart phone is a match made in heaven! These weather-based irrigation scheduling devices use local weather data to take the guesswork out of watering and provide your landscape with the water it needs to thrive. Don’t forget to check the rest of your irrigation system too, especially if the love of your life happens to have four paws. Perform a sprinkler spruce-up or select a certified irrigation auditor to inspect for sprinkler heads that may have been damaged by digging paws.
Learn more strategies you can use outdoors that will have you falling head over heels for your better yard.
Start by checking your water bill for January or February. If a family of four uses more than 12,000 gallons of water in one month, you could have a leak. In just 10 minutes, you can see if your toilet has a leak by placing a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If dye ends up in the bowl, there’s likely a leak. Old, worn out flappers are often the culprit of leaky toilets. The good news is that replacing a flapper is so easy you may not even need to call a plumber. Check out this WaterSense Bath Hack videoto learn more.
Take 10 minutes to listen for drips in your kitchen and bathroom, then inspect showerheads, faucet handles, and water pipes for dripping water and tighten connections if needed. Find hard-to-spot leaks by looking under sinks, laundry machines, and appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators with ice machines—pooling water is a reliable indicator of leaks. Don’t forget to check for leaks outdoors and replace any missing or broken sprinkler heads that could be wasting water!
Once you’ve conquered the 10-minute challenge, check out the 2021 Resolutions Checklist for more ideas that will help you save water, energy, and money all year long.Don’t let the winter chill get your sprinkler system down! Irrigation system components can be damaged due to ice or snow, or the ground becoming colder as the temperature drops. That’s why it’s important to spruce up your sprinkler system every spring in four simple steps: inspect, connect, direct, and select. Take some time this winter to spring forward to your next Sprinkler Spruce-Up.
- Inspect irrigation systems for missing and broken sprinkler heads that can waste water and cause flooding in your landscape.
- Check between joints, pipes, and valves to ensure they are connect-ed securely and aren’t leaking water.
- Sprinkler heads may have been knocked around when raking leaves or shoveling snow, so make sure to direct sprinkler nozzles towards your lawn and not towards streets, driveways, and sidewalks to prevent runoff.
- Finally, if you find broken sprinkler heads or have high water pressure, select WaterSense labeled spray sprinkler bodies, which can reduce mist, fogging, and overspray.
By doing some Sprinkler Spruce-Up as temperatures start to warm up, you will see more savings once the warmer months start increasing your outdoor water use. For more information, check out the Find It, Flag It, Fix It: A Checklist for Your Landscape checklist for completing a walk-through of your irrigation system.
The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy Districtsoared to new heights in 2019, earning its first WaterSense Partner of the Year Award for promoting water conservation with its water-saving partnerships and collaboration. The District, a water wholesale provider, teamed up with various organizations and the 33 cities it serves to promote water conservation the Rocky Mountain way.Northern Water’s Collaborative Water-Efficient Landscape Grant Program awarded $110,000 in grants for commercial projects to serve as local models of beautiful and water-efficient landscapes. These projects included using WaterSense labeled controllers when upgrading irrigation systems. The District also hosted a Conservation Garden Fair in June 2019 for local water users, drawing the highest attendance to date. Over 400 attendees could sign up for water audits, learn about WaterSense labeled product rebates in the region, and bring in an old showerhead to exchange for a WaterSense labeled model.
Northern Water joined the Sonoran Institute in its Growing Water Smart Workshop, a training for municipalities and regional stakeholders on how to incorporate water efficiency into land-use planning efforts. The District also worked with Colorado State University Extension and Colorado College on various projects to support and encourage students to pursue water conservation professions. One course, led by the Extension, equipped 100 landscape practitioners with information on WaterSense labeled products while educating them on landscape water management.
To top it all off, Northern Water partnered with the Energy Resource Center, a local non-profit, to offer energy and water retrofits for income-qualified residents. Through this partnership and donations to other regional housing agencies, Northern Water distributed 250 WaterSense labeled aerators and showerheads that helped residents save water, energy, and money.
To read more about the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and other WaterSense Award winners, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/watersense-awards.Colorado had another award winner in the City of Aspen, which earned its first WaterSense Professional Certification Organization Partner of the Year Award for its certification of landscape irrigation professionals. Although the City has less than 7,500 year-round residents, the City became a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaping (QWEL) Professional Certifying Organization in 2018 to increase the local knowledge base of water-saving techniques and technologies.
In 2019, the City introduced new Water Efficient Landscape Standards, calling for all new landscapes and renovations to undergo a third-party irrigation audit. To support this endeavor, the City provided local landscape professionals with the tools needed to conduct these audits and practice water-efficient irrigation methods by offering free QWEL trainings and certification opportunities—which in turn ensures that the City of Aspen has plenty of local certified specialists equipped to perform these audits.
The City of Aspen moved mountains to recruit for and promote its trainings through social media, newspapers, email campaigns, and phone calls. In addition, it opened the trainings to residents interested in water-efficient gardening and provided a free lunch-and-learn to professionals to learn more about the new standards, understand QWEL certification, and receive continuing education credits. The City certified 19 professionals in 2019 and had a re-certification rate of 82 percent!
To read more about the City of Aspen and other WaterSense Award winners, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/watersense-awards.