About 60 percent of the world’s population does not have access to fresh drinking water. By making simple changes, everyone can make a big impact on water consumption.
This concept was conveyed at a water conservation workshop presented by the city of Sacramento Department of Utilities Water Conservation Office on July 14 at 2260 Glen Ellen Circle.
Vincent Smelser, water conservation specialist for the city of Sacramento, began the morning by explaining the city ordinances in effect to save water. Smelser let folks know there are many ways to save on their water bill. He pointed out enforcement comes in the form of citations and fines can get up to $500.
Water use around the home
Smelser suggested when washing the car, use a shut-off nozzle. Running hoses are no longer allowed, he said.
Another way to save on water is sweeping the patio or sidewalk instead of hosing it down.
Smelser said per city ordinance, the only time water is allowed for cleaning a sidewalk is if there is an unsanitary event, but to be careful not to wash animal excrement or chemicals into the gutter, that also constitutes a fine.
When to water
Watering is allowed between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. For spring through fall, odd number addresses water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Even number addresses water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
During winter, (when daylight saving time ends) folks are allowed to water only one day a week, either Saturday or Sunday.
Smelser said often times improperly functioning sprinklers waste a lot of water.
Another water waster are older toilets. The city has a rebate program up to $100 for toilets installed prior to 1992. The city also offers free showerheads and aerators for the sink.
On average a person saves 25 gallons of water the first 10 minutes of their shower using a water saving showerhead, he said.“The courthouse on Bicentennial Circle saved 300,000 gallons of water a year just by replacing the aerators,” Smelser said. “Just by using a water efficient toilet, one can save 12,000 gallons of water a year.”
The city of Sacramento makes water-wise house calls for folks within city limits. A trained water conservation specialist will visit the home or office to identify potential water savings both inside the home and outside. If needed, the city will analyze and make suggestions on how to improve the soil, keeping water costs down.
Smelser said the city is able to identify leaks through smart meter technology. The water department is able to tell by looking at a residential water bill online where the leaks are located. Consumer’s now have the option of looking at their bill online to see where their water is being used most frequently.
Smelser demonstrated various methods used for watering; spray, hose and drip. The city provides information on the best watering system for different types of landscapes.
Smelser said to keep sprinklers in good repair. There are proper designs to keep sprinkler heads from breaking. Pop ups should be even with the ground. A good timer is essential to saving water.
“Seventy percent of water goes to landscaping in the summer, and switches to bathrooms in winter” Smelser said. “27 to a 1,000 gallons of water per irrigation is used for a typical landscape.”
A water-efficient yard
David Campbell, Siegfried Engineering and designer of the city of Sacramento’s water efficient demonstration garden, gave a presentation discussing drought tolerant plants, shrubs and grasses used for landscaping. He also discussed efficient ways to design yards and water saving irrigation systems.
Campbell, a licensed landscape architect, said when designing a landscape around saving water, there are specific things to think about.
The function and design of outdoor landscaping, turf alternatives and how efficiently the water is delivered are important in designing a water saving landscape.
“When thinking about what your yard is used for, turf is not the only answer,” Campbell said. “Grass is the cheapest, but not the most water efficient way to landscape a yard.”
Landscapes may include gardens, a place to escape to, or a place to attract birds and butterflies. Campbell said often yards are used for screening or buffering the home from busy streets and noise.
Types of plants
Campbell discussed a variety of plants, ornamental grasses, shrubs and groundcovers that are drought tolerant. He said some landscapes change throughout the year with the seasons and some folks enjoy seeing their landscape change.
There are many types of grasses that do not need constant mowing, watering, aerating, or fertilizing. He said ornamental grasses are not meant for foot traffic.
“A group called WUCOS (Water Use Classification of Landscape Species) now has empirical data on how much water certain types of landscapes use,” Campbell said. “The information can be accessed online through the University of California Extension.”
The irrigation system
Campbell explained there are different types of conversions kits people can use to update and improve their irrigation system. In general, overhead sprays are 30 to 55 percent efficient, rotators and rotors are 65 to 75 percent efficient, bubbles and micro sprays are 80 to 85 percent efficient and drip is 85 to 90 percent efficient.
All who came to the meeting left with buckets full of free goodies to improve water use in the home and information on how to conserve water with an efficient landscape.
For more information on water savings, visit www.cityofsacramento.org/utilities or call 311.