Optimizing Your Irrigation System Can Save You Money
As the weather warms up, your water usage increases due to more frequent irrigation. Unfortunately, much of the water used for irrigation is wasted in the form of over-spray. With water rates sky-rocketing, controlling waste is perhaps the easiest adjustment you can make to save money. The first step is simple; simply adjust sprinkler heads so that they
don’t water your driveway, sidewalks, or your house. Not only will you avoid damage to your siding, but you may avoid possible fines.
Sprinklers spraying on a house can cause thousands of dollars in damage. This is one of the most frequently listed items in our home inspection reports. Even stucco will become damaged by long-term exposure to sprinklers. Wood and hardboard siding are particularly subject to damage from over-spray. If you have sprinklers spraying directly on your house, fix it as soon as possible.
Most sprinklers have an adjustment screw on top which allows you to make small adjustments to the spray pattern. In some cases, you may have to re-locate the sprinklers. A good option for correcting sprinklers located too close the house is to convert the sprinkler heads to a drip system.
In addition to over-spray and possible fines, simply having high water pressure can waste water. This may not be obvious, but water forced out of a sprinkler at high pressure becomes atomized – like a fine mist. Instead of falling onto your garden, this mist can be blown away or evaporate quickly. Many parts of San Diego have very high pressure at the street. Often, the
irrigation system is plumbed directly off the water supply and can have pressure as high as 130 psi. If this is the case, have a pressure regulator installed. It will pay for itself by reducing your water consumption. You won’t have to water as long to deliver adequate coverage for your garden.
A well-designed irrigation system can also save water and result in a healthier garden. Rain Bird has an excellent white paper on how to design a system. Consider converting some of your sprinkler heads to a drip system. Drip systems allow you to concentrate water directly at the root system. This is particularly beneficial for shrubs, trees, roses, and bushes. This is particularly beneficial near the house.
Permanent mandatory restrictions
Permanent mandatory restrictions have been in place since 2011, and apply year-around, whether the City is in a drought or not. These restrictions are designed to promote water conservation as a permanent way of life in San Diego.
- City of San Diego water customers must prohibit excessive irrigation and must immediately correct leaks in their private water systems. The City’s regulations state that customers “shall not allow water to leave their property due to drainage onto adjacent properties or public or private roadways or streets or gutters due to excessive irrigation and/or uncorrected leaks.”
- Customers cannot use a running hose to wash down sidewalks, driveways, parking areas, buildings, awnings, windows, tennis courts, patios or other hard surface areas, except to alleviate immediate safety or sanitation hazards. A water-efficient device, such as a commercial water broom, must be used and all wash water must be prevented from entering the storm drain system (curb gutters, streets, alleys, and inlets).
- Overfilling of swimming pools and spas is strictly prohibited.
- All decorative water fountains must use a recirculating pump.
- Residents washing vehicles (automobiles, trucks, trailers, boats, RVs) must implement procedures to conserve water and prevent excessive runoff, such as:
- Washing vehicles at a commercial car wash.
- Washing vehicles on a lawn or pervious surface or directing water flow to a lawn or previous area.
- Damming wash water for collection and disposal to a previous area or to the sanitary sewer.
- Using a hose with an automatic shutoff nozzle.
- Using a hand-held water container.
- The City will not provide new water service connections for customers using single pass-through cooling systems.
- All new conveyor car wash and commercial laundry systems connections will be required to employ a recirculating water system.
- Restaurants and other food establishments shall only serve and refill water for patrons upon request.
- Guests in hotels, motels, and other commercial lodging establishments will be provided the option of not laundering towels and linens daily.
These restrictions apply to those whose property lies within the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department’s service area. If you receive your water bill from a different agency, please check with that agency regarding any applicable water use restrictions.
Info from the San Diego Water Authority.
About the author: Philippe Heller is President of The Real Estate Inspection Co.