As published in Lakeway Voice, February 2020.
Greener Grass with Less Water
Did you know that the average household, nationally, spends 50 percent of their water usage on outdoor irrigation? During the winter, most of us in Central Texas do not need to water our lawns on a routine basis, but to keep grass green through the rest of the year, careful planning can help residents use water wisely, cutting down on water waste and lowering water bills.
National studies have shown that homes with automatic sprinkler systems, on average, use 35 percent more water than homes without installed irrigation systems. “We’ve seen locally that customers who have an in-ground irrigation system spend up to 80 percent of their water use outdoors,” said Earl Foster, General Manager for Lakeway MUD (LMUD), a local water provider. The majority of this usage is just wasted water.
To help counteract excess watering, most water providers implement watering restrictions in their district. In Lakeway, customers of LMUD have been limited to a two-day-per-week watering schedule, year-round, since last summer. At the January 8, 2020 Board of Directors meeting for LMUD, the Board approved a new irrigation schedule that maintains the two-day-per-week restriction, but further separates the days by the last digit of the residential address, rather than just even or odd. “The purpose for this change,” said Foster, “is to help us minimize the spikes in water usage we have seen each week, which puts strain our water processing plant.”
“Right now, our peak spikes in usage are on Wednesdays and Saturdays,” said Raf Mendoza, Water Supervisor for LMUD. “These spikes put a strain on our normal operation capacity: our elevated storage tanks are brought down to low levels and the plants are running non-stop for 30 hours at a time.” Mendoza can attribute these spikes to outdoor use based on seasonal usage. “During the summer, our plant productions average 5 million gallons, whereas in winter, we go down to 1 to 2 million,” he said.
“If customers can follow this new schedule, we will be able to maintain higher levels of stored water in our water towers, which customers will appreciate with seeing better consistency in their water pressure,” Foster said. “But, beyond following the new schedule, we encourage customers to have their irrigation system checked each fall or winter to make sure it is running as efficiently as possible before the weather gets hot.”
An irrigation system evaluation should include checking for leaks, sprinkler heads for efficiency, and the control panel for proper scheduling. Residents who receive water from a list of Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) water customers, including from LMUD, have the option to apply for the WaterSmart Rebates Program through LCRA. This program can help offset the cost of services and equipment to save water and money. Additionally, Lakeway residents can utilize the Water My Yard program which uses local weather data to provide recommendations on how to run irrigation systems efficiently. For more information, visit www.LakewayMUD.org.
Written by Stephanie Threinen, Public Information Liaison, LMUD. Earl Foster is the General Manager of LMUD.