I’m writing to make sure that you’re aware of the Stage II Water Emergency Mandatory Drought Restrictions announced for all of Rockland County on July 21st. The restrictions limit times for irrigating and prohibit some uses of water outdoors.
We need to be smart about the way we use water in the landscape. An enormous amount—as much as fifty percent–just goes to waste due to evaporation, wind, or runoff. Many homeowners do manage their lawns and landscapes without supplemental irrigation, and that’s great. In the really hot dry weather, unirrigated lawns will go dormant, which is natural. They will start to grow when it rains again and gets cooler. That’s when you can plan to fertilize and overseed to maximize re-growth. Irrigated or not, in the warm weather, lawns should be mowed higher, which not only helps to shade out weeds but also allows less evaporation.
But if you don’t want to let the lawn go dormant, or you want to irrigate your gardens, make sure you’re doing all you can to limit watering and minimize water loss. Follow the County mandates on watering and take a look at these tips from the EPA WaterSense Program for reducing outdoor water use dramatically:
• Look for the WaterSense label on irrigation components to improve the efficiency of your system.
• Replace a standard clock timer with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller on a moderate-sized yard to save about 24 gallons of water per day.
• Irrigation system maintenance varies depending on the system, but it is always a good idea to inspect your system monthly to prevent leaks, broken or clogged heads, and other problems.
• Converting to a water smart landscape through careful plant selection and design can reduce outdoor water use by 20 to 50 percent.
• Mulch around shrubs and plants can reduce weeds, keep water where needed, and feed the plants as it decomposes.
• To reduce water waste from wind and evaporation, avoid watering during the mid-day sun or when it’s windy.
Nyack is a partner in the EPA Water Sense program, which promotes taking responsibility for conservation of this essential and finite resource. It certifies water efficient appliances and devices and provides lots of tips on products, practices and design. Try the WaterSense calculator. It estimates how much your household could save by switching to WaterSense labeled toilets, faucets, and showerheads.
Nyack is also a Climate Smart Community, with goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy. Remember, unless we’re using rain collected in a barrel or cistern, the water we use to shower, flush and irrigate is fit to drink. That means an enormous amount of energy has been used to treat it, so water conservation is energy conservation too.
Conserve water, conserve energy. Shower a little faster and use a WaterSense labeled shower head. Flush less. Don’t run the water continuously when brushing your teeth or washing dishes. Don’t worry if your lawn wants to take a nap in summer. And let’s all get rainbarrels! Even a short thunderstorm can quickly fill a fifty-gallon barrel connected to a downspout with a free supply of water for our thirsty gardens. (Just make sure they’re fitted with proper covers to keep out mosquitos.)
And we need to pass the word! Make sure that your friends and neighbors know about the water emergency and ways to conserve our precious resource.