In the summer months, municipal water use doubles. This is the season when Canadians are outdoors watering lawns and gardens, filling swimming pools and washing cars. Summer peak demand places stress on municipal water systems and increases costs for taxpayers and water users. As water supplies diminish during periods of low rainfall, some municipalities must declare restrictions on lawn and garden watering. By applying some handy tips, your lawn and garden can cope with drought conditions and you can minimize water wastage.
Much of the summer peak demand is attributed to lawn and garden watering. Often, water is applied inefficiently, resulting in significant waste due to over watering, evaporation or run-off.
Here are some general watering tips to help avoid wasting water:
Before watering, always take into account the amount of water Mother Nature has supplied to your lawn or garden in the preceding week. Leave a measuring container in the yard to help monitor the amount of rainfall (empty it once per week). Also bear in mind any watering restrictions that may apply in your municipality.
Water in the early morning, before 9AM, to reduce evaporation and scorching of leaves from the sun. Water on calm days to prevent wind drift and evaporation.
Set up your sprinkler or hose to avoid watering hard surfaces such as driveways and patios. If you’re not careful, it’s water and money down the drain.
Water slowly to avoid run-off and ensure the soil absorbs the water.
Regularly check your hose or irrigation equipment for leaks or blockages.
Collect rainwater from your roof in a rain barrel or other large container and keep it covered with an insect screen. Direct the down spout of your eavestroughs into the rain barrel.
Choose an efficient irrigation system. A soaker hose placed at the base of plants on the ground applies water to the soil where it’s needed – rather than to the leaves – and reduces evaporation. Drip or trickle irrigation systems are highly efficient because they deliver water slowly and directly to the roots under the soil surface. This promotes deeper roots, which improve a plant’s drought resiliency. If you use a sprinkler, choose one with a timer and that sprays close to the ground.
Other outdoor activities
Lawn and garden watering is not the only outdoor activity contributing to summer peak demand. You can lower your water bill and relieve the burden on municipal water supplies by doing the following:
Use a broom instead of water to remove debris from paved surfaces such as driveways.
Use a bucket and sponge to wash and rinse your car, instead of a hose.
Cover swimming pools when they’re not in use to reduce evaporation.
Thanks to CMHC for this article