Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are operating under a Modified Phase 1 Water Shortage declared by the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s governing board.
Under that order, all three counties are limited to one day a week for outdoor irrigation.
Katherine Munson, lead conservation education coordinator for the Water Management District, has compiled a list of questions and answers to help individuals reduce their water use by taking a few simple steps. A condensed version of that Q&A is presented here.
Q: Why is it important to conserve water outdoors?
A: Outdoor water use accounts for about 50% of water consumed by households, so it’s important to pay attention to your outdoor water use. If using a permanent in-ground irrigation system, be sure to conduct regular maintenance to ensure it is working properly and make seasonal adjustments throughout the year. If using a non-permanent above-ground sprinkler, only run the sprinkler when you’re home, water slowly to reduce runoff and allow deep penetration, and be sure to use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.
Q: What are signs to tell me my in-ground irrigation system is working properly?
A: Manually test run your system to visually check for broken or misdirected sprinkler heads, where water is shooting into the air or into the road or driveway. Also, look for areas where water may be spraying unevenly across your lawn.
Q: Does it matter when I water my lawn?
A: You should only water on your designated day and only if needed. You can learn more about local water restrictions at WaterMatters.org/Restrictions.
Q: What should I check on my irrigation controller to make sure it’s set to water more efficiently?
A: There are three main elements to check on your irrigation controller — the start time, run time and schedule. The start time refers to when your sprinkler system will turn on. Only one start time is needed to initiate watering all irrigation zones. The run time refers to how long each zone in your system will run. Check with your local UF/IFAS Extension office for run time recommendations. The schedule refers to the days of the week your system will turn on. Always check local water restrictions before setting your start time and schedule at WaterMatters.org/Restrictions.
Q: Can smart irrigation controllers help save water outdoors?
A: Yes, smart irrigation controllers help to reduce outdoor water use by automatically adjusting your irrigation run times and/or frequency depending on local weather and other site conditions. Smart controllers are an especially great option if you travel often or live in Florida only part of the year, and still want your irrigation system to adjust to seasonal changes. If properly installed and programmed, a smart irrigation controller can result in water savings of up to 30% to 40% during dry conditions and up to 70% to 90% during the rainy season.
To find more water conservation tips, visit the District’s website at WaterMatters.org/Water101.
Published December 20, 2023