Tips for Watering Wisely

Portland Water Efficiency Services offers tips to stop being “irrigated” by water waste. Residents are encouraged to water wisely by using water-efficient technologies that help save money and reduce water waste.
If you water your landscape with hoses, there are devices that can help you water more efficiently. Soaker hoses are a cheap alternative to drip irrigation systems for watering shrubs and bushes. They release water to plants through thousands of tiny pores that drip water slowly and evenly at low pressure.
Portable sprinklers with rotor action lay down water at a slower rate than those with a constant spray pattern. By applying water at a slower rate, there is more time for the water to be absorbed into the soil instead of running off. Those that water low to the ground will prevent misting and evaporation into the air. Hose timers for manual sprinklers allow you to set the start time and duration of the watering session. Battery-operated, electric or wind-up timers are all available, typically attaching to the hose bib.
Drip irrigation is one of the most efficient ways to water plants, shrubs, vegetable gardens and outdoor container plants. With drip irrigation, water works its way slowly into the soil and goes directly to the roots of the plant, keeping evaporation to a minimum. It is ideal for clay soils, where adding too much water too quickly can result in puddles and runoff.
Most garden centers carry drip irrigation kits or components with either drippers/emitters, bubblers or microsprayer heads. A drip watering system needs low water pressure to work properly, which can be done with a pressure regulator. To avoid over watering, installing a timer on the hose bib is recommended. With regular maintenance, a drip system can be very efficient and help you save water.
For those who have in-ground irrigation systems, consider replacing clock timer controllers with a WaterSense-labeled smart controller. Smart controllers act like a thermostat for your irrigation system. Instead of watering at specified times, they can adjust watering schedules based on local weather or soil conditions. Portland Water Bureau customers who install an approved WaterSense-labeled irrigation controller are eligible for rebates up to $100 for residential accounts and up to $500 for commercial or multifamily accounts.
A new smart controller must be programmed carefully and wired correctly to achieve water savings. If you’d rather hire a professional than doing it yourself, the EPA’s WaterSense program certifies irrigation professionals who practice water-efficient techniques.
Another way to reduce water waste is by reducing the pressure. In most homes, water pressure is 40-80 pounds per square inch (psi), yet most pop up sprinklers are designed to operate at 30 psi. If your irrigation pressure is too high, consider lowering it to reduce misting and runoff. WaterSense-labeled sprinkler bodies can be used at each sprinkler or pressure regulators, either near each system valve or for the whole system.
Multi-stream rotating sprinklers are another option. These sprinklers have thin, rotating streams that apply water to a landscape more slowly and evenly. This allows the soil more time to absorb water, resulting in less water runoff from sloped landscapes.
Water Efficiency Services also offers a Weekly Watering Number email/text messages system based on your zip code. Sign up to receive the weekly updates, issued through mid-October, and take the guesswork out of watering.
To sign up for the Weekly Watering Number notifications, find links to rebates and a list of certified irrigation professionals, visit bit.ly/WaterWiselyPDX.

Tips for Watering Wisely

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