It happens every summer. Things begin to get hot and dry and water becomes a topic of conversation and concern. In the summer the quantity of water used by a typical residence peaks at 50 to 100 percent over the winter rate. While typical indoor uses stay fairly level throughout the year, this additional water is going to keep the lawn, garden, and landscape alive. Unfortunately, the months when we need water the most are the months when it rains the least! Municipalities have to build the pumping and supply lines capable of handling this peak. Thus the more we can do to lower the peak, the more money our communities can save, and is why waterwise landscaping should be on your to-do list.
The future of our water supply has become a major concern for municipalities, agriculture producers, and our legislators. Current projections point to approximately 2030 as the year we “run out of water”, or more accurately when our demand exceeds our supplies.
While experts debate just when this day will come, there is one thing for sure…the future sure looks drier. Surface and ground water supplies will continue to be strained as our population increases. Water is needed for many aspects of our lives including industry, household uses, and irrigation. Considering the various places our water goes, when there is not enough to go around where will we cut back? When the competition is between having drinking water, supplying manufacturing, growing food crops, flushing the toilet, washing clothes, and watering an extensive landscape, which do you think is the most expendable?
Texas AgriLife Extension Service recently conducted a series of meetings called the Texas Community Futures Forum in every county in the state. These meetings brought local residents together to identify the top issues they feel need to be addressed to maintain or improve their quality of life in the future. Water was a top issue in virtually all counties, especially in central Texas.
We need to build more water efficient landscapes. There are many tools at our disposal to do this including choosing drought tolerant plants, water efficient landscape designs, drip irrigation and other technologies, and rainwater collection.
Xeriscape, WaterWise, WaterSmart or whatever name you put on it, water efficient landscaping is here to stay. We can and should be part of the solution. Get a head start on the future with some wise investments in your landscape today.
Additional Resources for Waterwise Landscapes
How to Water Efficiently in Central Texas – tables listing water output and methods
Cycle and Soak Irrigation – publication from Texas A&M AgriLife Research
Water Education in Texas – information hub from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension
Earth-Kind® Drought Preparedness
Texas Evapotranspiration Network – use for weather information, current and average evapotranspiration data, and irrigation watering recommendations
Austin Water Evaluation and Runtime Calculator
Austin Water Residential Irrigation System Evaluation Instructions and Template
Austin Watershed Department Grow Green Irrigation FAQ
Water My Yard – The WaterMyYard program utilizes local weather data collected by an extensive network of weather stations and rain gauges in sponsored areas. This information, along with research-based understanding of plant water needs, allows experts to send tailored weekly watering advice for your specific lawn. The City of Austin does not participate in this program, but you can still get information by choosing the locality nearest to where you live.
The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting – from the Texas Water Development Board
Making a Rain barrel – from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension