Irrigation upgrades deliver crucial water savings in time of drought

How can Palo Altans revamp their yards to save water?

In the midst of California's driest year on record -- and $500 fines for sprinkler runoff as of Aug. 1 -- residents with out-of-date or problematic irrigation systems are due for an upgrade. Watering more efficiently doesn't have to break the bank, thanks to basic adjustments to your current system, free water usage evaluations from the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD) and even rebates for installation of certain water-saving technologies.

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2014 at 9:48 am

500$ fines for urband dwellers wasting a little water--but no fines for farmers who use approximately 80% of California's water growing non-essential crops, like pistachios.

When are we going to get our collective heads out of the sand, and begin to demand accountability from our elected officials--rather than just looking for handouts from them?

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Posted by New in Town
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

I agree that the focus on residents isn't going to make as big a dent as municipalities and rural areas. Those of us who love almonds and almond milk aren't helping as a single almond uses a gallon of water to grow and California grows over 90% of almonds in the US.

Web Link

On a personal level, we reduced our HH water usage by 200 gallons per day by simply replacing two toilet flappers. If your toilet is making any noises, possibly you still have a plastic flapper. A rubber replacement is $10 and is an easy DIY project that does *not* require a plumber. Matt Rowe, the plumber quoted above, gave us that good advice and he was right.

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Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm

If farmers use 80% of the water and residents use 20%, does that mean industry uses none?

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Posted by cn
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2014 at 1:11 pm

jm- Where are you getting the 20%? I can't find it in the article or the comments.

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Has anyone noted how much water it took to grow the first field planted at the new Levi's Stadium or how much it will take to grow and maintain the second installment? My yard is sooo much smaller. And Santa Clara County is sending water cops around to homes? Yikes!

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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 28, 2014 at 3:38 pm

> where does 20% come from?

Web Link

Note-from trying to locate a couple of links to provide this important bit of information, it seems that some folks have been rethinking how water is used, and tracked, in California. One source suggests that as little as 40% went to farms, 11% to urban use, and the rest to rebuilding wetlands.

The farming numbers may be bobbing about at the moment, but the urban use (including manufacturing) is clearly 20%, or less.

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Posted by Industrious
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 28, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Industries often use de-ionized water, which comes pre-bottled from a source far away.

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Posted by Greg G
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 28, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Greg G is a registered user.

It is important to conserve water. The water issue in California cannot framed as' farmers or urban users' . For the most part, as farmers decrease the amount of water they use, that same saved water does not magically become available at out home faucets. Another point is, farmers are not irrigating with water equal in quality to the water coming out of our taps in Palo Alto. It is important to conserve water, fresh potable water in the urban environment is precious. It has always been against the law here in California to allow wasteful runoff of water from ones property. It's bad public policy to allow water waste. One of the best ways to conserve water in your yard is to look up a Palo Alto Landscape contractor who specializes in modern irrigation methods.

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Posted by gabe
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 28, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Before going out and buying a bunch of MP rotators for $8 a pop, check the program in your controller, and as is stated in the article, run through your irrigation system about once a month, and check for breaks. One little hose break on a drip line running for 20 minutes can add up quick. Even more quickly would be a broken spray head, and worst of all, broken lateral and mainlines. MP's will work for low water shrubs, but for lawns they don't work so well. They won't break down fertilizer either, and if you want to use a slow release fertilizer then forget it. Nothing beats head to head coverage with traditional spray nozzles. Tune the flow control on valves to avoid misting. To avoid runoff or excess water use, remember some guidelines. Run spray zones for no more that 5 minutes at a time. Drip for 20 minutes. Rotors for 15 minutes. Micro spray for 9 minutes. MP rotators for 18. From there, check your landscape in the morning to see how things look, and fine tune the hardware and programs. If your landscape is sloped, use sealed sprinklers that trap water in the bodies at the bottom of the hill, this will avoid water escaping and slowly dribbling out. Program your landscape to water between 10pm and 6am to maximize water retention in the soil. Watering too close to mid-day and you don't get the bang for your buck due to evaporation from heat and sun exposure. I don't believe in getting complicated with et controllers and satellite systems, nothing beats a walk around your property to survey results on the ground. As I say, "Use the force Luke." And don't buy products like Toro or anything from HD. Go to your local irrigation store and ask for advice.

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Posted by Greg G
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 28, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Greg G is a registered user.

It is important to conserve water. The potential for waste in the landscape is great. There is a lot of bad advice out there. The MP rotator sprinkler nozzles mentioned in the article are one of the best and most efficient advances in lawn irrigation to date. MP rotators combined with a ET controller(weather based irrigation controller) is the most efficient way to irrigate a lawn. There is a reason water agencies are giving people rebates to install them. Call a licensed California Landscape Contractor, preferable one who is an irrigation expert for good advice. There are many good irrigation landscape contractors in the Palo Alto area.

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