Jake Hollingsworth


Outdoor water use, which accounts for 30 percent of a typical household’s water use, goes up for many of us in the summer, especially if we have homes or businesses with lawns and gardens.

Did you know that as much as 50 percent of the water we use outdoors is wasted by inefficient watering? This column offers some tips to help reduce outdoor water use.

Tune-up tips for automatic sprinklers

Many of us rely on automatic sprinkler systems to keep our lawns looking their best. Automatic sprinklers are convenient because you can just set them and forget them.

Summertime, when outdoor water use is typically high, is a good time to evaluate your sprinkler system to make sure it’s working efficiently.

The Gulf Coast Water Authority, which provides tap water to almost 190,000 Galveston County residents, is encouraging businesses and homeowners to check their systems in July during Smart Irrigation Month.

This national public awareness campaign promotes efficient outdoor water use to:

• Save money on your utility bill

• Minimize overwatering while keeping your lawn healthy

• Conserve water, a limited resource

Taking these steps to maintain your automatic sprinkler system can save thousands of gallons a year.

• Check to make sure sprinkler heads are working properly

• Set the controller to water no more than twice a week

• Set sprinklers to water your yard, not your driveway, sidewalk or street

• Water in multiple, short intervals to reduce runoff (i.e. three 5-minute intervals)

• Water during the cool time of day because watering in the heat can cause 30 percent of the water to evaporate

• Upgrade your system with a rain sensor

• Adjust your controller for seasonal weather conditions

Be water wise

Tuning up your automatic sprinkler is just one way to more efficiently use water. Here are more tips that can make a difference.

1. Use a drip irrigation system or soaker hose for your garden.

2. Clean paved areas with a broom or rake instead of hosing them down.

3. Mulch beds with natural mulch to retain moisture and reduce the amount of water that plants need.

4. Use a nozzle on your hose to avoid runoff.

5. Landscape with native plants and drought-resistant plants that need less water.

6. Install a rain barrel, or a few, to collect rainwater for your plants.

7. Control weeds, which steal nutrients and water from your grass and other plants.

Being aware of your outdoor water use is the first step toward protecting this limited resource. Follow GCWA on Facebook for more news and water conservation tips. Also visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense website (www.epa.gov/watersense) for more information about reducing water use indoors and outdoors.

Jake Hollingsworth is manager of the Gulf Coast Water Authority’s Thomas Mackey Water Treatment Plant, which has a production capacity of 57 million gallons a day.

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