This memorial day weekend has reminded us that it actually does rain in the high desert. We have seen two straight days of rain, and, depending on your area, according to the National Weather Service you have probably accumulated somewhere between .30 and .50 inches of rain. We do not get that much rain during the summer in Northern Nevada, so we should use what God has provided us wisely and not waste water. This will inevitably save money. The cool season grasses that we have in Reno normally require between 1" and 1.5" of water per week to maintain health. It is very hard to pin point the exact amount of water that comes out of an irrigation system, but a rough average I have found is somewhere between 4 and 12 gallons per minute. This completely depends on the size of your piping, sprinkler heads per zone, number of zones, and types of nozzles you use, but for most residential homes we can give this ballpark estimate. If you actually want to calculate how much your irrigation system uses, this LINK can help you determine that amount.
So How Do You Save Water and Money?
First things first. For those of you that do not want to calculate it out, just check with the National Weather Service to see how much rain your region accumulated, and, if it is around .5", then it is probably safe to assume that you can change your irrigation timer from "AUTO" to "RAIN DELAY" or "OFF" for your next assigned watering day. Just don't forget to turn it back on later in the week! For my home with 4 zones I water for 10 minutes each zone, 3 times per watering day, and an average of 8 gallons per minute is used. This comes out to be 960 gallons of water saved just by shutting my irrigation system down for one day.
More Advanced Ways to Save Water and Money:
For anyone who is looking at a more permanent way to save money and water throughout the season, you can install a RAIN SENSOR that works with most irrigation timers. Instead of assuming how much water your lawn needs, this system will determine the amount of moisture in your lawn and will activate the sprinklers when watering is appropriate. The upfront cost of this might be a little hard to swallow, but I have had customers that have saved up to 30% on their water bill over the season, which means the Rain Sensor will eventually pay for itself overtime.