Water Conservation Inside and Out
The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) has determined that we are reaching the sustainable limits of our aquifers. SJRWMD has identified 97% of the St. Johns River watershed as either a Priority Water Resource Caution Area or a Potential Caution Area. In other words, we are pumping water out of the ground at a rate that exceeds the rate of natural recharge. If we continue using groundwater at the same rate, we risk harming our aquifers and the St. Johns by causing saltwater intrusion, sinkholes, damage to wetlands, and the decline of lake levels and flows of springs and rivers.
As a result of our impending water supply shortages, we must take action by using water much more efficiently. Water conservation is much less expensive and poses much less risk to our river than alternatives like surface water withdrawals. Together, we can conserve water and save our St. Johns River.
Outdoor Water Conservation
Over 50% of water usage is typically outside the home, primarily for irrigation. So, this is one of the best places to begin with your river friendly makeover!
Install a rain barrel.
Harvesting rainwater provides a free source of water for your plants and helps keep some stormwater runoff away from driveways, streets and our river. Learn how to make one or where to buy one on our River Friendly Rain Barrel page.
Water only when needed.
Often, rainfall may provide adequate irrigation for your lawn and plants. 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, it may be time to water.
Follow the irrigation rule:
- March – November: No more than twice a week before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Odd addresses can water Wednesday and Saturday, even on Thursday and Sunday, and non-residential on Tuesday and Thursday.
- November – March: No more than once a week before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Odd addresses can water on Wednesday, even on Thursday, and non-residential on Tuesday.
Water early in the morning.
Temperature and wind speed are at their lowest rates, so there is much less evaporation.
Apply between ½” and ¾” at each watering. You can measure the amount by placing 5 to 7 wide-mouthed cans (the size of a tuna can) throughout the lawn. Use a ruler to measure the depth of water in each can. When the average measurement in each can is ½” to ¾”, you can determine the amount of time it takes to apply the appropriate amount of water. Overwatering can actually result in a shallow root system, making your lawn less drought-tolerant and more susceptible to weed growth, disease, fungus and insects. Consider installing a soil moisture sensor that will either turn on your automatic system when water is needed or turn it off when the lawn has received enough water.
Adjust your sprinklers to only water your grass and plants, not your street, sidewalk, or driveway. Routinely adjust and maintain timers and sprayheads. Use microirrigation or drip irrigation, when feasible. Pay attention to the weather forecast and seasonal weather patterns and make adjustments to your irrigation practices accordingly.
Set it; don’t forget it.
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, turn it off during periods of rainy weather and make sure your system has a functioning rain shutoff device.
Use River Friendly landscaping practices.
Create or expand beds with native or drought-tolerant plants and groundcover. Use mulch to retain moisture.
Indoor Water Conservation
Most of our inside water use is for showers, sinks, clothes washers, and toilets. We also waste an average of nearly 10 gallons of water a day per person from leaks.
Turn it off.
If you are not using the water while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, or washing your car, simply turn it off.
Check for leaks.
Replace worn or leaking toilet flappers. They generally cost $3-6 and can save thousands of gallons from being wasted due to leaks.