Lawn Watering a Costly Use of Precious Drinking Water
Concord, N.H. – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services wants to encourage residents to be water wise by adopting proven water conservation practices that will reduce water losses, waste, or use. It comes as no surprise to anyone who pays a monthly water bill: water use increases during the summer. In fact, many New Hampshire public water systems see their customers double or triple their daily water use during the summer. The difference between summer and the rest of the year is, of course, outdoor use of water, such as lawn watering.
“Since the passage of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, public drinking water systems have had to respond to additional water quality and regulatory standards by improving their water treatment and monitoring capabilities,” says Brian Goetz, water systems consultant with Weston & Sampson Engineers and past president of the N.H. Water Works Association. “These systems are held to a high standard for every drop of water that comes out of the tap whether it ends up being used for drinking, laundry, flushing toilets, or watering a lawn. It’s important that customers realize that being efficient with their water use can have a positive impact on water quality and its cost.”
“Population growth is part of the issue, but it’s more a matter of the pattern of development that’s contributing to the problem,” explains Sarah Pillsbury, administrator of DES’s Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau. “The trend has been toward larger homes, larger lots, larger lawns, and in-ground sprinkler systems.” In addition to the economic impact this is having on water systems, there’s the concern about impacts of the water withdrawals on groundwater levels and aquatic habitat during droughts, she added.
Fortunately, both homeowners and water systems can address these issues. Water systems can structure their rates to discourage excessively heavy water use, while homeowners can change their habits to water only when needed, and to redesign their lawns and landscaped areas so that less – or no – watering is need.
“It’s a matter of selecting turf grasses and landscape plantings that don’t require lots of water; it’s also important to have enough topsoil to support your lawn without frequent rain or watering,” explained Derek Bennett, DES’s water conservation coordinator.
Governor John Lynch has proclaimed May 3 – 9, 2009 as Drinking Water Week. The outdoor use of water was identified as one of the state’s top drinking water issues in a recently released DES report that covers a broad range of water resources problems. The New Hampshire Water Resources Primer is available from DES at 271-2975 and at www.des.nh.gov look under “Hot Topics.”
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