The WaterSense Current Spring 2015
Issue XXXIV, Spring 2015
In This Issue:
Listen to Your Mother (Nature) This Earth Day
April 22 is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. This year, celebrate the water planet by using water outdoors the way Mother Nature intended and making every drop count this spring planting season. From selecting regionally appropriate blooms to knowing when and how much to water, you can be a water-saving force of nature this Earth Day with a lush and low-maintenance landscape.
- Watch your water budget. If you're designing a new landscape or rethinking your current one, the WaterSense Water Budget Tool can help you plan for water efficiency. With inputs such as zip code, yard size, and plant types, you can determine if your landscape design uses an appropriate amount of water for your climate.
- Localize your landscape. Think outside the flower box by choosing plants native to your region, which require less water to supplement normal rainfall. Not only will these local beauties thrive in your soil and climatic conditions, but their low maintenance and increased pest resistance will save you both water and time. Browse WaterSense's Water-Smart Landscape Photo Gallery to see how curbing your lawn's water use won't cost you your curb appeal.
- Play zone defense. Assign areas of your landscape different "hydrozones" based on sun and shade exposure, soil and plant types, and type of sprinklers. Then adjust your irrigation system or watering schedule based on those zones' specific watering needs. That way, you'll avoid overwatering some areas or underwatering others.
- Mulch to maintain moisture. Give your landscape a mulch makeover and reuse your yard debris by topping off flowerbeds with dried leaves, grass clippings, or tree bark chips. Adding a layer of mulch around shrubs and flowers will help retain moisture, inhibit weed growth, moderate soil temperature, and prevent erosion so you can spend less time watering and more time watching your garden grow.
- Timing is everything. Know how much water your landscape actually needs before you set your sprinkler. Your local utility can offer recommendations for how much water certain plants need in your region and best times to water. It's generally best to water lawns and landscapes in the early morning, because significant amounts of water can be lost due to evaporation during the heat of the day.
- Tune up your system. Homes with clock timer irrigation systems use about 50 percent more water outdoors than homes without irrigation systems. Inspect irrigation systems to prevent additional water waste due to incorrect programming, a sprinkler head pointed in the wrong direction, or a leak.
- Look for the label. If you have an irrigation system that uses a clock timer, consider upgrading to a WaterSense labeled controller. Labeled models act like a thermostat for your lawn, using local weather data to determine when and how much to water, reducing waste and improving plant health.
Thirsty for more watering tips? Learn more ways you can embrace outdoor water savings this Earth Day and beyond.
Go With a Pro to Spruce Up Your Sprinkler System This Spring
While your plants went dormant this winter to cope with dropping temperatures, your sprinkler system felt the effects too. Cracked pipes from freezing conditions can cause costly leaks, and broken sprinkler heads waste water and money. Your yard could be losing as much as 25,000 gallons of water and more than $90 over a six-month irrigation season! That's why spring is the perfect time to spruce up your irrigation system in four simple steps (see sidebar to right) before you ramp up your watering efforts.
If you're not the do-it-yourself type, irrigation professionals certified by a WaterSense labeled program have the skills and knowledge necessary to help you improve the health and efficiency of your watering systems. Go with a pro to:
- Audit: Test your irrigation system to confirm that it performs properly and efficiently.
- Install, maintain, and repair: Select and service the appropriate equipment and site layout, as well as ensure proper scheduling of your irrigation system to optimize performance.
- Design: Customize your irrigation system to best suit your landscape and account for local climate conditions.
Learn how these experts can wake up your irrigation system from its winter slumber and help ensure a healthy landscape all year long.
Award Winners' Water-Smart Workforce Helps Homeowners Save
You wouldn't hire an unlicensed plumber to install your plumbing system, so why hire an uncertified irrigation contractor to install and maintain your irrigation system? That's the question driving the 2014 WaterSense Partner of the Year award winners Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (SMSWP) in California and the national Irrigation Association (IA). Both organizations seek to develop a workforce of certified irrigation professionals trained to help homeowners save water outdoors and reduce their utility bills. While IA rolled out its Hire Certifiedcampaign, fellow award winner SMSWP encouraged homeowners to hire graduates of its WaterSense labeled Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL)program.
The two organizations' WaterSense labeled programs have collectively certified thousands of irrigation professionals nationwide to design, install, maintain, and audit irrigation systems for optimal water efficiency.
"Since becoming a WaterSense labeled professional certification program, QWEL has expanded from Northern California to 12 locations across the United States, including Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, and Florida," said SMSWP North Marin Water District General Manager Chris DeGabriele.
QWEL professional certificationeducates landscape professionals on the principles of proper plant selection and irrigation system design, maintenance, programming, and operation. Individuals must demonstrate their ability to perform an irrigation system audit, as well as pass an examination on everything from water management to valve, controller, and field wire troubleshooting. Nearly 200 irrigation professionals were certified through QWEL programs in 2013 alone, and SMSWP redesigned the QWEL website to make finding a certified irrigation professional easier for homeowners with irrigation systems.
IA, meanwhile, offers nine certification programs for technicians, auditors, contractors, designers, water managers, and specialists. Homeowners can be confident that the IA certified professionals they hire are equipped to do the job effectively based on IA's rigorous training and testing requirements.
"I would hire someone who is certified before someone with only industry experience…because I know what he has to know to pass the exam," said ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance Division Leader Eric Santos, who holds seven IA certifications.
HydroPoint Data Systems Gets Efficient Watering Down to a Science
Thanks to HydroPoint Data Systems' enhanced WaterSense labeled controllers, homeowners can have watering down to a science with little to no effort. New computer-generated climate models deliver daily local weather data to the controller. The controller uses that data to better calculate the appropriate amount of water needed for plants and lawns. What's more, the company's mobile app gives homeowners the ability to monitor and control irrigation systems remotely from their smartphones and tablets.
"I personally think that water conservation at the last mile often faces the hardest challenge of all—changing people's behavior. However, we have seen firsthand how committed everyone becomes when they have the right tools and data," said HydroPoint Data Systems President and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Spain.
The company's efforts have helped lead to big savings. HydroPoint Data systems estimates that more than 25,000 users of its WaterSense labeled controllers saved about 20 billion gallons of water in 2013 alone. That year, HydroPoint also released its WeatherTRAK Budget Manager tool for property managers that offers customers simple real-time visibility, tracking, and reporting of a site's water consumption and costs. An additional tool gives landscape irrigation professionals the ability to timely identify leaks or line breaks to save customers from costly repairs.
HydroPoint's continuous collaboration with water agencies and municipalities nationwide to encourage rebates exclusive to WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers has helped keep the savings going through more than 200 rebate programsin 16 states.
Learn moreabout 2014 WaterSense Small Manufacturer Partner of the Year HydroPoint Data Systems' WaterSense labeled controllers.
WaterSense Partners Finish Strong in the Race Against Water Waste
WaterSense partners held over 60 events across more than 25 U.S. states and Canada in celebration of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s seventh annual Fix a Leak Week from March 16 through 22, 2015. Five-kilometer (5k) road race events, irrigation system check-ups, workshops, spring training events, social media contests, and other outreach efforts were held nationwide helping consumers chase down some of the more than 1 trillion gallons of water lost annually due to household leaks.
Throughout the week, WaterSense partners helped hundreds of homeowners chase away water waste by learning about the importance of finding and fixing leaky fixtures inside and out. Here are a few examples:
- At the City of Plano, Texas, Chasing Leaks Fun Runon March 14, prizes were awarded to racers with the best water- and energy-themed superhero costumes, and a social media challenge rewarded those who implemented water-saving strategies after the event.
- The City of Santa Rosa, California, Water-Use Efficiency Team added a little extra “green” to the fourth annual Patrick’s Day 5kon March 15 by teaching a Water Wise Leak Workshop on how to find and fix leaks.
- The City of Fort Worth, Texas, Chasing Leaks 5k Run/Walkon March 15 had a promotional videowith a 1920s “flapper” helping a homeowner fix his running toilet.
- The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) held its fifth annual One for Water 4-Milerrace on March 21 in Peoria, Arizona, with a life-sized toilet mascot Leaky “Loo” McFlapper and family fun festival providing leak-fixing demonstrations and children’s entertainment.
- The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s third annual Water Drop Dash 5k Race and Water Festivalon March 21 along the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia, distributed retrofit kits and held a post-race gift-card drawing for WaterSense labeled product purchases.
- The Trophy Club Municipal Utility District No. 1 teamed up with other organizations to host demonstrationson March 21 featuring local home improvement store professionals with advice on how to repair leaks.
- On March 22, the City of Charlottesville, Virginia, hosted its third annual Fix a Leak Week Family 5kwith a costumed “running” toilet and family-friendly activities to educate passersby on finding and fixing household leaks.
- The City of Goodyear, Arizona, teamed up with the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians to offer complimentary spring training baseball tickets to local residents whose 2015 winter water bills showed a reduction from 2014.
- In Florida, Citrus County Utilities helped customers “Schedule a Specialist” throughout the weeklong event to check their water meters and irrigation systems for leaks and rebated WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers.