Water wise or water woes: A lesson in conservation

Shirley Smith

Imagine the horror of looking out the front window and seeing gallons of water running down the gutter carrying debris, pesticides and fertilizer to our waterways from people over-watering their lawns.

Over watering the lawn is a major contributor of water waste in California. Home sprinkler systems are mainly responsible for this.

Generally, the installer of the system sets the sprinklers to come on before daybreak for 15 minutes of continuous water flow two to three times a week and runoff goes unnoticed at that time in the morning.

“Proper watering requires attention to soil infiltration rate,” said Robert Farnsworth, chairman of the horticulture department. “Typically home¬≠owners leave their clock on, but perhaps scheduling with intermittent time on and off allowing for infiltration between doses of water, rather than runoff.”

An intermittent five-minute-on and five-minute-off schedule will allow the water to soak in the ground, ending after 30 minutes and would use the same amount of water as a steady 15 minutes, but with no runoff.

Some Saddleback College students are already homeowners, and younger students will begin to buy homes in a few years and can prepare how they might landscape in lieu of water guzzling lawns.

“You can cut down on grass or turf you have on your property,” said Dece Morgan, a landscape design/horticulture major at Saddleback.¬† “Getting a rain barrel, conserving that water that comes off your roof and use that in the drier months to water your plants.”

This doesn’t mean that everyone has to rip out their lawn, or line up five barrels in their yard. It means everyone can find ways in and around their own homes to conserve water in some way.

Start by checking out your current sprinkling system. It is a step in helping our community and our world.