Our planet has a limited supply of fresh, clean water.  The heat of summer has finally arrived, and for many folks all across the U.S. that means water and irrigation restrictions. Did you know that Idaho is the third largest water user in the U.S., consuming 19.5 billion gallons per day of fresh water?

Most Residential Water Is Used for Landscaping

Idaho  residents use  more water per capita than in any other state according to a recent report from the U.S. Geological Survey. The national average water use is 88 gallons per day per person, but  in Idaho the average is 168 gallons per day per person.  That’s a lot of water, but  guess what-landscape irrigation alone can account for 59% of residential  water use!

I was floored by these numbers. Fresh, clean water is a precious and limited resource. But there are things you and I can do to limit water use and avoid waste. I was inspired to look into how each of us can make a difference. Because, if you’re like me, you want to save money while leaving more water for our rivers and future generations-and reducing landscape irrigation is a great way to do it!

So what can we do? Check out some of our suggestions below.

Conserve Water on Your Own Landscape

  • Replace irrigated turf with drought tolerant vegetation. There are many plants, including several Idaho natives, that look great with little water.
  • Cap irrigation heads or turn off entire zones that are wasting water on established trees and bushes.
  • Choose a water efficient micro-spray or drip irrigation system for plants that need irrigation.
  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants. This slows down evaporation.
  • Mow grass at the highest recommended height for your lawn type, 3.5 inches or higher. Not only does this result in less evaporation, it helps promote healthier,  drought-tolerant grass.
  • Wait to water until you see turf with leaf blades folded, blue-gray color, and/or footprints remaining visible.
  • Irrigate before 9 am  and after 7 pm  during June-September.
  • Train your plant roots to go deeper by deep watering in the spring.

For more information on how to conserve water on your landscape check out Northern Water’s website.

Contact Your Public Works Department or Water District

Contact the public works department within your city, county or water district, and ask them if they have a water conservation ordinance. If your city, county or water district does not have a water conservation ordinance, consider approaching your city or county officials about adopting one.

Below are items to consider asking your elected officials or water master to support in a water conservation ordinance.

  • Prohibit irrigation between 9 am and 7 pm
  • Limit irrigation to certain days per week on scheduled days. Even and odd days corresponding to house addresses.
  • Limit irrigation to only the amount necessary to meet landscape needs
  • Research and install soil sensors to monitor the soil conditions
  • Advocate for water conservation incentives and tiered water rates.

Want to Know More?

If you are interested in learning more about how Idaho uses water and the work the Idaho Conservation League is doing to keep our water in Idaho’s rivers, check out our website.

We all need to do our part to use less water for many reasons. While our planet has a lot of salt water, it has a limited supply of fresh water. We want plenty of clean water in our rivers and lakes for drinking water, wildlife, fishing and recreation. It might not seem so urgent right now but in about 30 years-by 2050-25% of the world population will lack access to water according to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Let’s do something about it now!