Fall is approaching and the snow in the mountains is gone, temperatures are warm, and water levels in local streams and rivers are low. Snowpack and precipitation continue to be below normal and temperatures are above normal, causing a strain on local water supplies, impacting fish habitat and water quality. For many, water shortages are an inconvenience. For others, it will affect their livelihood. Now is the time to implement water conservation practices at home.
Each of us can help keep more water in area rivers and streams and improve conditions for the farms, fish and wildlife that make use of this limited resource. For many of us, the simplest place to conserve water is in our landscapes. The following tips can help you increase your water efficiency and eliminate water waste.
Irrigate early in the day between 4-9 a.m. when evaporation is lowest. The next best time is after 8 p.m. at night. Avoid watering on windy days.
Water infrequently but deeply. This promotes growth of deep root systems so plants can withstand longer dry periods and stay healthy.
Regularly check for leaky or broken sprinklers, hoses, and water lines and fix them promptly.
Never apply water faster than it can be absorbed. Sloped areas are tricky to water effectively. Contour around each plant to create a water well or use terracing.
For new landscapes, choose native, drought-tolerant plants or eco-lawns for future water savings and less maintenance.
Consider letting your lawn go dormant for the rest of the summer. It will green up again once the rains start.
Use drip irrigation or micro-sprinklers instead of overhead or impact sprinklers. You will save water and minimize plant diseases caused by wetting the leaves of your plants.
Redirect sprinklers to avoid hitting the pavement. Watering pavement is a waste.
Remove weeds regularly and use a weed barrier such as mulch material, bark, or landscape fabric. Weeds compete with desirable plants for water.
Mulch your plants. Mulch helps conserve moisture while suppressing weeds.
Wash your car on your lawn rather than driveway and concrete surfaces. The grass will help filter the water so that soap doesn’t enter waterways and your lawn will get watered at the same time.
Please join the effort to keep our creeks, rivers, and streams healthy.
Conservation Districts are local, non-regulatory, public agencies charged with assisting landowners and residents with responsible natural resource management and stewardship. Hood River Soil and Water Conservation District in Hood River, Wasco County Soil and Water Conservation District in the Dalles, and Underwood Conservation District in White Salmon are available to assist with a variety of natural resource issues, including soil health, water quality, fish habitat, wildfire risk, forest management, noxious weeds, pollinators, wildlife, livestock and agriculture.
Heather Hendrixson is District Manager, Hood River SWCD.