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Water Conservation

Water Glass

We have experienced drought conditions during two of the last four years. Meeting High Water Demands, even during non-drought conditions, can be difficult and create operational problems. Although we have been working for several years to locate, develop and permit additional water supplies, the process is difficult and costly.

Indoor Water Conservation Tips

Water Spray
  • Check for Toilet Leaks - This is a common problem and may be a silent leak. To check, put a little food coloring in the tank. If the color begins to appear in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak
  • Put a Plastic Bottle in your Toilet Tank - Fill a plastic bottle with a couple inches of sand or stones. Fill the bottle with water and cap tightly. Place the bottle in the toilet tank safely away from any operating mechanisms. Save water with every flush.
  • Take Shorter Showers - Get wet. Shut off water and lather up. Turn water on to rinse off. This can save 5 gallons of water a minute and as a bonus, saves the energy to heat the water.
  • For Cold Drinking Water - Fill a clean jug with water and leave out overnight or place in the sun for 1 hour to remove chlorine. Place jug in refrigerator. Running tap water to cool it off for drinking water is wasteful.
  • Check Faucets and Pipes for Leaks - Even the smallest drip can waste dozens of gallons of water a day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds of gallons.
  • Install reduced Flow Shower Heads and Toilets
  • Full Loads Only - Use your Automatic Dishwasher and Clothes Washing Machine for Full Loads Only.
  • Don't leave the Water Running while washing dishes or cleaning vegetables at the sink.
  • Save the Water from boiling pasta, potatoes and vegetables. When cool use it to water your plants.

Outdoor Water Conservation Tips

As much as 80 percent of the water utilized around the home during summer is for outside uses. Watering the lawn is the main outside water use. During dry summers, the State of New Jersey or the HMUA may reduce or eliminate outside water use. These measures are necessary and effective means to reduce water consumption and relieve the strain on water supplies.

Do we really need to water our lawn?

Remember that millions of acres of crops in New jersey depend entirely on natural rainfall.. Many lawns can survive quite well by going dormant (leaves turn brown). The first few warm days of summer does not automatically mean to water lawns. In fact, allowing lawns to start to go under mild drought stress actually increases rooting.

Drought-induced dormancy of lawns in New Jersey is rarely long enough to cause failure of the grass, especially if the lawn is healthy.

Remember, just as lawns turn brown from extreme water shortages, they will also return to their natural thick green state when conditions improve, usually in the fall - just don't panic. No amount of mid-summer watering will allow our cool season grasses to look as good as they do during spring or fall. By September, in fact, lawns that were watered throughout the summer generally look no better than lawns that weren't. In other words, a naturally brown lawn in August is not a sign of neglect.

To avoid severe loss of turf and to conserve water, homeowners should manage their lawns each year in anticipation of water restrictions.

The practices listed below will reduce the need for irrigation while improving the appearance of your lawn.

Prepare your Lawn for Drought & possible Water Restrictions

If you are allowed a little watering, concentrate on making certain your important trees and shrubs have an adequate water supply. These costly investments won't die right away from a drought and you may not see the damage for a year or so. Weakened woody plants are more susceptible to insect damage that may go unnoticed until it's too late.

Let your Grass Grow Taller

  • Taller grass has a deeper root system that draws moisture from a larger volume of soil and results in a lower tendency to wilt.
  • Grass height should never be less than 2-1/2 inches after mowing. A lawn mowed at heights of 3 to 3-1/2 inches will have a better chance of surviving prolonged drought and water restrictions. Don't remove any more than one-third of the grass leaf at any one cutting.
  • The increased height will help shade the roots and reduce water evaporation from the soil. It also helps trap any dew that may form during the night.
  • Keep your mower blades sharp, which means having them sharpened several times during the mowing season.

Fertilizer and Lime

  • Lime is even more important than fertilizer in the acid soils of the East Coast. At low pH's several of the essential nutrients are unavailable to lawn grasses. Adding lime to raise the soil pH to between 6.5 and 7.0 not only makes these nutrients available, but also makes a lawn more drought-resistant.
  • Fall (September through November) fertilization will prepare a lawn for drought in the following year better than spring fertilization.
  • Never fertilize in the summer. Nitrogen fertilizer applied in the spring and summer causes additional leaf growth and increases the need for water and mowing. The leaf growth uses stored plant energy that normally would be used to produce roots needed for water uptake during summer. Fertilizing during drought conditions increases the risk of lawn failure.

Lawn Watering???

Lawn watering is probably governed more by one's point of view than anything else. However, except under extreme circumstances, even the natural brown-out does no harm.

Those who are inclined to simply wait out the seasonal changes can be confident that they're not going to harm a healthy lawn.

Those who want the green look throughout the summer can benefit from the lawn watering tips below. Water ONLY WHEN and WHERE it needs it.

  • WATERING MAY ONLY BE NECESSARY DURING AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF NO RAINFALL - Frequent, light waterings favor shallow roots and plants are unable to tolerate dry periods. Lawns designed by nature to shut down (go dormant) under extreme conditions. Putting a little water on the lawn fools it into thinking, "hey, maybe things aren't so bad" instead of preparing itself for a continued period of no water. If you do water, it is best to water established lawns at a rate of one-inch per week, applied all at one time to promote deep rooting. Don't water if a one-inch rainstorm has occurred in the last week. Also, postpone watering if the forecast calls for rain in the next few days.
  • TURN OFF THE AUTOMATIC TIMER ON THE SPRINKLER SYSTEM - We have all seen it. It is RAINING OUTSIDE and the Automatic Sprinkler System is running. Not only is this wasting water, it is costing you money.
  • WHAT TIME OF THE DAY TO WATER - The best time to water a lawn is from 6 to 8 a.m. During this time, the wind is usually low, and water lost to the atmosphere by evaporation is negligible. Watering early in the morning also has the advantage of reducing the chance of turf diseases that require extended periods of leaf moisture. Avoid irrigation during midday and windy conditions. As much as 40 percent of water can be lost to evaporation if applied when it is windy or during bright, sunny heat of the midday.
  • WHERE TO WATER - Water problem areas by hand to postpone the need for irrigation of the entire lawn. Some areas of a lawn usually wilt before others. These areas, or "hot spots", may be due to sunny southern exposures, steep slopes, warmer areas next to driveways or sidewalks or by hard soils that take up water slowly. Soaker hoses that have a narrow pattern and supply water at a slow rate may be useful in these areas. Although mentioning it may seem unnecessary, sprinklers should be set to water the lawn, not the street, driveway, or sidewalks.
  • SPRINKLER RUNOFF MAKES A NATURAL PROBLEM WORSE - Water flowing down the gutter often carries soil, pet waste, lawn chemicals and other ollutants into storm sewers, which empty into nearby streams and lakes. Water running off your yard can also erode soil from adjacent undeveloped lots. While occasional mid-summer rainstorms wash pollutants into lakes and streams, careless lawn watering on hundreds of lawns can create a "rainstorm" every day throughout the summer. This occasional runoff occurs during the hottest weather and low water conditions in streams and lakes - prime conditions for growth of nuisance algae and aquatic weeds.

Other Outdoor Use Water-Saving Tips

  • Clean your car with a pail of soapy water. Use a hose with a self-closing nozzle to wet car and to rinse off. Consider driving your car onto the lawn before washing to take advantage of the water draining off the car.
  • Use a Broom, not a hose to clean your driveway or sidewalks.
  • Mulch around trees and plants. The mulch will help reduce evaporation and minimizes runoff and allows the rain to slowly soak into the soil. Mulches also discourage weed growth, help moderate soil temperature, and may decrease garden disease problems.
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