WaterWise is now offering mobile water conservation workshops!

WaterWise is now offering mobile workshops to help landscape personnel save water! A WaterWise tailgate workshop consists of an instructor driving to a landscape company’s site. Driving to the facility and teaching the workshop outdoors eliminates the need to secure a facility. Everything is done outside and the WaterWise instructor brings a pick-up truck loaded with equipment. The instructor opens his tailgate and teaches his water conservation workshop. The instructor then introduces water saving methods to field personnel. WaterWise forgoes handbooks and keeps everything as simple as possible. However, the workshops stress hands-on exercises that employees can use while out in the field. Classes can be taught in both English or Spanish.
Please click this link for an example of our workshop

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Are regions actually starting to think about their long-term water supply?

For about 20 million people living in Southern California, water is not something that should be taken for granted. Due to many factors such as climate and geography, Southern California simply does not get enough water to sustain itself. As a result, Southern California agencies and entities must import water from other regions-most commonly Northern California. However, this has created an environmental catastrophe for many aquatic species, such as the Bay Delta Smelt. This small fish struggles to survive in an ecosystem where it used to thrive. This is because the salinity levels (amount of salt in the water) flux with increased and decreased pumping to Southern California. As Southern California’s water supply decreases, more (fresh) water is pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. As a result, seawater then mixes with the remaining fresh water, and makes it inhospitable for the smelt.
Water purveyors and municipalities do, undoubtedly, try to conserve water. However, these agencies and municipalities tend to push for more water conservation during dry years, and they often relax conservation efforts in years with plenty of rain. This causes a long-term problem because not enough is being done about water conservation. Efforts must be made year-round, rain or shine to make a lasting long-term impact on water conservation. As a result of the fluctuating water conservation efforts, consumers often do not realize how big of an issue water conservation really is. For example, agencies push to conserve water during dry years, and then reduce efforts during wet years. Customers then forget about water conservation during wet years. While this might work short-term, we need to conserve water ALL of the time-rain or shine, regardless of how full our reservoirs and aquifers are.

Brian O’Neill
boneill@waterwise-consulting.com
http://www.waterwise-consulting.com

How do riparian water rights along the Colorado River affect Mexico’s water supply?

Loosely defined, riparian water rights state that people who own property adjacent to a body of water may withdraw water from that water source. While this worked well in pre-industrialized nations such as England, where riparian rights were created, these rights do not work as well during the twenty-first century. The main cause of problems with riparian water rights today are that there are more people that live along riparian zones (zones bordering a body of water). This means that more people are withdrawing water now than 100 years ago. To make matters worse, people use more water now than 100 years ago. For example, people often wash their cars in the driveways. People irrigate landscape, which accounts for as much as 50% of their water usage.
What does this have to do with Mexico, you might ask? Well the Colorado River flows from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado at over 10,000 feet elevation down to the Colorado River Delta in the Gulf of California, Sonora, Mexico. This 1,450 mile journey provides near-limitless access to water. However, most of the Colorado River flows through the United States—not Mexico. By the time the Colorado River reaches its end in the Gulf of California, there is a mere trickle of water. The maximum flow rate has been measured as high as 300,000 cubic feet/second (8,500 cubic meters/second). The minimum flow rate, however, is as little as 700 cubic feet/second. That’s because all of the water has been pumped out or withdrawn for use in the United States. While this may not be a problem for us, it is a problem for Mexico. They need water, too.
Brian O’Neill
boneill@waterwise-consulting.com
http://www.waterwise-consulting.com

Is your irrigation system leaking?

Most irrigation systems are inefficient and use much more water than is necessary. In addition, irrigation systems are prone to develop leaks which may go undetected because they are not directly used, as a sink or toilet is. This causes irrigation systems to use even more water than necessary. That being said, how can you check to see if your irrigation system is leaking?
First of all, you should check your historical water use. You can find this information on your water bill. If you would like to see a long-term water usage, contact your water company. When looking over your historical water use, you should look for a jump in water usage. However, be careful that you consider seasonal water usage. Depending on your location, a seasonal water trend will look like a bell-little water use in the cool winter months such as January. As the temperature changes, you will use more water. Your peak usage should be in about July or August, and then should slowly decline as the temperature drops and you receive more precipitation. If there is a spike in your water usage, you likely have a leak.
Another way to determine if your irrigation system is leaking is by installing a dedicated landscape meter. Dedicated landscape meters are useful in determining whether or not you have a leak because they measure the amount of water used specifically for irrigation. In addition, you will save money on your water bill because most water companies charge for sewage based on the amount of water used for indoor uses. By installing a dedicated landscape meter, you will not be charged sewage rates for irrigation water since it should filter through the ground instead of flowing into storm drains or sewers.
The third way to check if your irrigation system is leaking is by a visual inspection. Walk your property where your irrigation pipes are and look for areas of landscape that are wet and should not be. Note that this should be done before your irrigation system runs. If you see any wet areas of landscape, it is likely that you have an underground leak and the water is seeping into the ground. Other problems that you might see are broken sprinkler heads, which look like geysers. You may also see streams of water spraying from sprinkler bodies, pipes, or fixtures. These are caused by pinhole leaks and only can be detected when the system is pressurized (while the irrigation system is running).
Brian O’Neill
boneill@waterwise-consulting.com
http://www.waterwise-consulting.com

Save water by smart landscaping

Often the most wasteful areas of water use is that of landscaping. Irrigating landscape often uses immense amounts of water because many decorative plants have high water demands. Also, poor landscape design can lead to wasted water by causing excess runoff and even small-scale flooding in areas.

Landscape irrigation often requires immense amounts of water because of the non-native choices that many homeowners make when designing their landscape. In California, for example, many gardeners select ornamental plants for the colorful flowers that last only a few weeks at a time. In order to significantly reduce the amount of water used to irrigate your garden, you should consider planting native species in your garden. Many of these plants have beautiful flowers and attract native wildlife such as birds and various mammal species.

Another significant cause of wastewater in landscape is poor landscape design. Extensive areas of non-permeable hardscape cause small-scale flooding because the water often has nowhere to drain. In my own yard, for example, there is a section of cement approximately 10’ wide by 25’ long that was used as a patio by the previous owner, which now fills with water every time it rains. One of the easiest solutions to this problem is replacing non-permeable hardscape with a permeable version. You can buy cement pavers at local hardware stores, and these allow the water to pass between each piece, helping drain water and replenish underground storage basins. When water is unable to enter the ground, it is most often channeled into sewage systems where it must be treated and re-released into the environment.

For more information, visit http://www.waterwise-consulting.com
Brian O’Neill
boneill@waterwise-consulting.com

How to check your soil drainage

Whenever working in your garden or landscaping, it is important to test your soil drainage. Soils with excess clay have poor drainage because the small clay particles hold lots of water. Sandy soils, on the other hand, have relatively large particles so the water moves through it very quickly. It is important to make sure you have proper soil drainage because soils with excess clay hold water and may lead to root diseases such as rotting.
To test your soil drainage rate, there are a few steps:
1. Dig a hole 18” deep and 6” wide
2. Fill the hole with water, and let it drain overnight
3. Now, fill the hole again on the second day and record the time
4. Check the hole about every hour, until the water drains out for the second time
If the water drains out of the hole in three hours or fewer, you soil drains quickly. If it takes four to six hours for the water to drain, you have optimal drainage. If the water takes more than seven or eight hours to drain, you have poor drainage.
To maintain an optimal drainage level, you can add different soil amendments. If your water drains too quickly, you can add clay soils and mix them in. If the water drains too slowly, you can add sand and mix it in with your existing soil.
For more information, visit http://www.waterwise-consulting.com
Brian O’Neill
boneill@waterwise-consulting.com

Getting the most out of every drop

It is without doubt that Americans must reduce their demand on natural water sources. Our population is increasing every second, but our water sources are not. As a matter of fact, some water sources are actually shrinking on a daily basis. So, how can we get the most out of our water? What if your house or business already has efficient fixtures? To answer this problem, we will look at the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. You reduce consumption by implementing efficient fixtures, such as showerheads, faucet aerators, and toilets.
In order to reuse water, we must figure out ways to capture water after we use it once, and harness it again to use a second¬¬ or even third time. Luckily engineers and environmental advocates have been working on this problem for many years. There are water catchment systems available that capture water once it has been used, and contain it for use at a later time.
For example, some people have small water containment systems under their sink that hold water from hand-washing , and pump it into toilets for a second use. Other systems may be significantly larger-they can be connected to shower drains, washing machines, and even dishwashers. As a result, these systems must have much larger tanks and sometimes pumps depending on the location.
These devices essentially are a large bin or tank in the plumbing line that contain water before it flows out to the sewer. Depending on the location, some of these systems are zero-energy systems; meaning they use gravity to push water into other locations or devices. The most common systems are under-sink systems that pump water into toilets, and larger versions to contain shower and washing machine water. Often these systems are connected to a series of large barrels to contain large amounts of water. This stored water can then be used to water landscape or fill toilets, etc.
However, it must be noted that special biodegradable soaps and detergents must be used if the water will be used to irrigate plants. Traditional soaps and detergents are typically chemical-based and are very harmful to plants. Biodegradable soaps are easily decomposed and broken down by microbes and bacteria in the soil.
To read more about innovative ways you can save water, visit http://www.waterwise-consulting.com
Brian O’Neill
boneill@waterwise-consulting.com