Water is precious. In Ventura, we get our water from all local sources. Let’s keep it that way. The water we save this year may be the insurance against some future drought!
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Every summer, outdoor water use rises with the warmer temperatures. This summer, Ventura Water is partnering with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense program in an effort to provide more water efficiency tools and resources to our customers.
Water Conservation Specialist, Jill Sarick, has some watering tips and advice from WaterSense that will help ensure a healthy, beautiful landscape that uses less water, take less time to maintain and protect our watershed.
Take Control of Your Controllers
Jill typically finds that customers are simply unaware of how much water their irrigation systems use. Many assume the amount is not a big deal—that is, until they see their water bills. “When speaking with most people about water use, many complain about their teenagers’ long showers,” she notes. “Once you learn that some sprinkler nozzles can emit just as many gallons per minute as a showerhead, then running your sprinklers too long is like having an entire football team taking a shower on your lawn!”
To be water wise this summer, she recommends homeowners spend some quality time getting to know their irrigation controllers this summer. For example, if homeowners who have an automatic controller should know how to turn it on and off and rotate through the stations and schedule. If they don’t, they should ask a local certified irrigation professional to show them how. California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) and the Irrigation Association are certification bodies that list certified irrigation auditors who can help you tune up your system. Alternatively, you can replace an existing timer with a WaterSense labeled, weather-based model that adjusts based on climatic conditions. In Ventura, if you live within the Casitas Municipal Water District service area you may qualify for a rebate for a weather-based irrigation timer.
Spy on Your Sprinklers
No matter how much you water it, you can’t grow pavement. “It’s a waste of money and water when runoff hits an impermeable surface. Moreover, dry weather runoff is a major contributor to ocean pollution.” Jill stated.
To find out if you are watering the pavement, she suggests watching their sprinkler system run through each watering zone at least once to see if concrete is inadvertently being watered. Misaligned or broken sprinklers are the largest source of complaints received from residents about water waste, “she noted.
Another way to keep water off the pavement this summer is to break out the broom—sweep steps, sidewalks, and driveways rather than hosing them off.
You can also switch out older sprinkler nozzles with high efficiency ones can save up to 30% more water. These are often less than $5 each and can be purchased by local irrigation suppliers like Aquaflo, Smith Pipe and Supply and Lowes.
Have Some One-on-One Time with your Turf
Even if you don’t have an irrigation system, you can take steps to save water and improve your lawn’s health and beauty. Grass doesn’t always need watered just because it’s hot out. Jill says to “perform a ‘step test’ on the lawn early in the morning or late evening. If the grass springs back, reduce the watering time. Take a look at corners and shady areas too; if there is moss growing, you are overwatering.”
Still not sure? Consider using a soil moisture probe. This inexpensive tool is inserted alongside grass and plant beds to detect whether the soil at the roots is wet, moist, or dry. If the sensor gives a reading of wet or moist, she suggests making plants’ roots work a little harder to obtain that water for an overall less “needy” landscape.
Choosing to switch over to water-wise gardens is also a good idea. Jill supports replacing small areas of turf with native plants or drought-tolerant species that use little to no additional water once established because they are adapted to the local climate. There are many attractive water-wise plants that provide beautiful color and often attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Check out the Ventura Water Wise Plants website for ideas, plant selection and hydro-zoning information.
For more information on summer outdoor irrigation use, please visit saveourwater.org and home-water- works.org. Ventura Water also sponsors classes and hands-on workshops on Ocean Friendly Gardens throughout the year. Stay updated on the latest class schedule and event information at facebook.com/venturawater or twitter.com/venturawaterCA.
Ventura Water joins Heal the Bay and Wishtoyo Foundation’s Ventura Coastkeeper Program
in a historic agreement that will benefit local water supplies and protect the ecosystem of the Santa Clara River Estuary.
Water Take 1 Launches Global Online Short Film Contest
Every person on this planet relies on water. In Ventura, our water is from local sources and it’s our responsibility to protect it for future generations. To help spark that awareness, Ventura Water is partnering with Limoneira’s Limco Del Mar, Patagonia and iThentic for the inaugural “Water: Take 1” Online Short Film Contest. We hope that this exciting initiative will highlight people’s relationship with water and promote water awareness, efficiency and recycling programs.
“We chose to do an online film contest with a water focus because members of our community, as well as on a national and global level, must begin to recognize the importance of water and its infrastructure,” explained Shana Epstein. “With the contest, we hope to engage intelligent and creative conversation between leadership, businesses and the community.”
Filmmakers worldwide are invited to submit short films of less than five minutes in any genre – drama, documentary, comedy, animation, Sci-fi or experimental – that address the topic of water. Films can be submitted and uploaded at no cost to the contest website, watertake1.com, through September 4, 2012.
A panel of environmental and entertainment professionals will choose a winner for the $1,500 Grand Prize and the top winner will be presented at an event hosted by the Brooks Institute later this fall. The film receiving the most votes at watertake1.com will be presented the Audience Choice Award and its filmmaker will receive a Canon EOS 7D Digital SLR camera.
Competing in this contest is a great way for Ventura County’s high school and college students, among others interested in water and the environment, to do something positive that helps others appreciate our access to clean water while promoting water efficiency and sustainability. Help spread the word to your friends, neighbors and coworkers and get involved by joining the contest and/or join the wave by voting for your favorite video at watertake1.com.
The issue of water infrastructure is a global one. In the United States alone, there are large areas of infrastructure more than 100 years old that must be fixed or replaced. However, in many other countries, such as parts of Africa and India, the total lack of infrastructure there has a serious impact on the local health and economy and causes a negative ripple effect worldwide.
Water is also an important issue in Ventura, although many residents are unaware of the huge effort and the amount of energy it takes to clean and move our water so it can be used again and again for generations to come.
Ventura is among California’s oldest coastal cities and has many areas where infrastructure is ending its useful lifespan and will need replacement over the next few decades. While projects and plans are underway to improve this invaluable infrastructure, it isn’t without cost.
Years ago, much of the infrastructure was maintained using federal grants, most of which are no longer available due to budget cuts. As a result, water customers now bear the full financial responsibility of infrastructure maintenance, replacement and improvement.