According to the St. Johns River Water Management District, "Lawn and landscape irrigation accounts for more than half of all residential water use."
This is the same water that we drink, feeds our wetlands, bubbles up and creates our magnificent springs, and provides 20-30% of the flow of the St. Johns.
By using water more efficiently, we can save money and prevent the need for expensive and risky plans to siphon water from our river.
A recent study found that homeowners can reduce their water consumption by over 30% by simply readjusting the automatic irrigation system on a regular basis. The lesson here is don’t just set it and forget it. Pay close attention to the weather and rainfall patterns and frequently adjust your irrigation timers accordingly. Often, rainfall can provide all of the water that your lawn and plants need. Also, carefully inspect and adjust your spray-heads on a regular basis, making sure that your sprinklers are not also watering the sidewalks, driveway, or street.
If you are a JEA customer, you can call (866) 664-8644 to schedule a free water checkup and irrigation audit to improve the efficiency of your system.
The type of plants and grasses that we use in our landscaping is another major reason for our wasteful watering practices. By gradually expanding beds with low-maintenance, native plants and reducing the size of our lawns, we can eventually save a tremendous amount of time, money, and water. The rule here is “right plant, right place.” Pick the plants that are the most appropriate for the specific conditions of your yard (sun or shade, moist or dry soil, etc.) and will require the least amount of water and fertilizer.
We also often apply much more water than our plants and grass really need to remain healthy. Over-watering can actually result in a shallow root system, making your lawn less drought-tolerant and more susceptible to weed growth, disease, fungus and insects. Irrigate only when your lawn shows signs of stress from lack of water – when the leaf blades begin to fold in half, the lawn turns a bluish-gray color, or footprints linger.
If you have an irrigation system, consider installing a soil moisture sensor. These inexpensive devices can cut your sprinkler system water usage by more than half by continuously checking soil moisture levels and preventing your sprinklers from operating when watering is not needed.
Follow the local irrigation ordinance that only allows watering up to 2 times a week (March – November) and before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. If your street address is an odd number, watering is allowed on Wednesday and Saturday, while even number addresses can only water on Thursday and Sunday. The days for businesses and non-residential locations are Tuesday and Friday.
Finally, consider installing a rain barrel or cistern to conserve water and prevent runoff that can wash fertilizers and chemicals down storm drains and into our waterways.
By working together to use water more efficiently, we can save money, conserve our groundwater resources, and protect our precious St. Johns River from unnecessary and potentially harmful water withdrawal plans.
Learn more on the River Friendly section of our website.