Irrigation: Not Simply a Question of On & Off

graph by Dan Genter | post by Jenny Stein

This is the second of two posts on water usage. The first is a reminder of the Marin Municipal Water Department (MMWD) water regulations currently in effect, and a look at the new generation of smart irrigation controllers: How Smart is Smart Phone-Controlled Irrigation? This post points to MMWD tools and tips to help us be water smart.

With a good solid winter of rain behind us and local reservoirs at near capacity, it’s easy to feel like we’re through the worst of it. But conserving water is more a long-distance race than a sprint, and the MMWD site is full of information to help us stay the course. Along with drought information and rainfall and reservoir data, the conservation page is loaded with tips, rebates and even something called the Home Water Works Calculator.

If you only visit one page, go to the illustrated primer Evapotranspiration Explained. The word evapotranspiration joins evaporation: the water lost from soil, with transpiration: the water naturally lost from plants. This page explains why it’s not a good idea to simply turn on your irrigation and leave the settings the same, regardless the time of year. If you think about it, plants need less water in the spring than in summer: the days are shorter and cooler; and less water in fall, as light levels and temperatures drop, and plant growth slows. Adjusting irrigation rates throughout the year improves plant health while conserving water.

If you’re in doubt of how much water is needed, use the Weekly Watering Schedule as a guide. Along with these tools there is the possibility to stay informed via emailed updates.

In a previous post – A Drop in the Bucket – Dan and I explain how the water usage data we gather, though specific to East and West Piers, can serve as a guide community-wide.