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Irrigate smartly and save on water bill

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Mid-summer is a good time to make sure you’re using water efficiently, both to preserve a critical resource and to save money on your bill. Governor Mike Pence has proclaimed July as Smart Irrigation Month, recognizing that residential and commercial lawn watering typically peaks at this time of year.

“We appreciate the steps consumers have taken to embrace new technology and make sure irrigation systems are working more efficiently and effectively,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “In many cases, more than 30 percent of the drinking water pumped by a utility goes toward irrigation. This offers a great opportunity for water conservation and consumer savings.”

If you water your lawn, make the most of it by:

* Only irrigating when you need to, and remembering that there is such a thing as “overwatering.” According to Purdue University research, most Indiana lawns only need watering once each week. (There are exceptions, though, especially new lawns.)

* Watering early in the morning. If you water between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., you’ll minimize evaporation while maximizing saturation.

* Knowing about technological advances in irrigation systems. If you use an automatic irrigation system, consider a new or retrofitted system with a “smart controller” or sensors that will take rain or soil moisture into account and will prevent overwatering.

* Focusing on giving the grass a less-frequent “deep soaking” to help the roots grow more deeply (as opposed to watering it frequently and lightly).

* Not watering when it is windy and not using a “fine mist” from your sprinkler.

* Keeping an eye on sprinklers and making sure they are not watering the street, driveway, sidewalk, building or gutters.

* Raising the lawnmower blade to the highest setting. If the grass is a little longer, the roots don’t have to work as hard.

Additional steps that will help you save water and money include:

* Checking for any leaks in faucets, toilets and the underground supply line, and fixing them right away. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor’s (OUCC’s) website (www.IN.gov/OUCC) describes simple tests for toilets and supply lines.

* Using low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators.

* Keeping showers brief.

* Shutting off water while brushing teeth or shaving.

* Running the dishwasher and washing machine only when fully loaded.

* Making a “toilet dam” by filling a plastic bottle with pebbles or sand, closing it tightly, and placing it in the toilet tank. By taking up space, this will reduce the amount of water needed for flushing. Be sure that the toilet dam does not interfere with the flushing mechanisms, and do not use a brick since it may release chemicals that will damage the flushing apparatus.

* Looking for the EPA WaterSense label when shopping for new toilets, irrigation systems or other appliances.

To learn more visit www.smartirrigationmonth.org

The OUCC offers no-cost and low-cost tips for conserving water inside and outside the home or business at www.IN.gov/OUCC or by calling the agency toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

Posted 7/29/2013