On April 13, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board declared April as Water Conservation Month. This annual proclamation highlights SFWMD’s continuing efforts to conserve water and ensure ample supply now and in the future.
Florida has observed Water Conservation Month since 1998 to highlight how each of us can do our part, in the little ways and the big ways, to conserve water to make sure we all have enough.
Around 3 billion gallons of water are used every day in Central and Southern Florida by 9 million residents and visitors - for watering lawns, drinking and bathing, growing crops and servicing industries. Future water demands are projected to increase to approximately 4.1 billion gallons per day by 2040. One of the most effective ways to address increasing water needs is through water conservation.
During Water Conservation Month, the SFWMD joins with local governments throughout our 16-county region to raise awareness about the importance of water conservation and the ways residents and businesses can reduce our water use all year long.
With approximately 50 percent of residential water used for irrigation, it is important to irrigate efficiently. To promote more efficient irrigation and conservation, SFWMD passed a year-round Landscape Irrigation Rule that limits the days and hours allowed for landscape irrigation. The year-round Landscape Irrigation Rule is a component of the district’s Comprehensive Water Conservation Program, which was established to encourage more responsible use of water resources throughout South Florida.
The SFWMD is also encouraging all local governments to adopt a local irrigation ordinance following the district’s year-round rule restricting irrigation to two or three day.
Homeowners can use these simple tips to save water both inside and outside their home:
• Make sure your rain sensor device is working properly to prevent your irrigation system from running in the rain.
• Set an irrigation timer to run only two or three days per week pursuant to your local irrigation ordinance and no irrigation between 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Learn more about Lawn Watering Restrictions.
• Install a “smart” irrigation controller that uses weather data or soil moisture information to decide when and how much irrigation is needed for your yard.
• Fix leaks. Finding and fixing water leaks conserves water, saves money and protects your home from damage.
• Landscape the Florida-Friendly Way by planting low maintenance plants using environmentally sustainable practices.
Helpful tips to conserve water during Water Conservation Month:
Irrigate with care — Apply moderate amounts of water to create a healthy, drought- and stress-tolerant lawn. For most Florida soils, applying no more than three-quarters of an inch of water per application is enough to revitalize the grass. Use spray heads designed for planting beds. Position the sprinkler so that you water only the lawn and shrubs, not paved areas.
Plant Florida-friendly lawns — Plant native or drought-tolerant vegetation that thrives in the native soil and local weather conditions. Go native, and resist the urge to water it and just let it go brown during the dry season. It will come back, as nature intended, when the rains come.
Nozzle — Equip hoses with automatic shutoff nozzles for car washing, hand watering, etc.
Test with tracks — Water your lawn and landscape only when it is actually needed, such as when footprints are left when you walk across the grass.
Avoid buzz cuts — Cut your grass at the highest recommended height for your turf species or the highest setting on your lawn mower. Cut no more than one-third of the grass length at one time to encourage grass roots to grow deeper.
Fertilize responsibly — Excessive nutrients flowering into our waterways do not only come from big industry or agriculture. The use of fertilizer and pesticides on our yards results in pollutants contaminating the waterways in stormwater after runoff when it rains. Residents are encouraged not to use fertilizers or pesticides during the warmer months and to use them in the correct amounts during other times of the year.
Color your water — Detect a leaking toilet by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. If the tank is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. Replace the bad parts or consider upgrading to water-efficient toilets. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily. Dispose of tissues, insects and other such waste in a trash can rather than in the toilet.
Load it up — Set clothes washing machines that have variable settings for water volume, at the minimum amount required per load. If load size cannot be set, operate the washer with full loads only.
Turn it off — Turn of the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
Time your showers — By timing your showers to keep them under five minutes and installing low-flow shower heads use only 21 gallons of water per minute or less. Older fixtures use as much as 5 gallons per minute.
Check your water meter — Check for leaking pipes by reading your meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the readings are different, you have a leak.