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H2GO's New Irrigation Policy

2/21/2022 9:02:40 AM

Greetings H2GO Customers,
The new policy restricts irrigation to 3 events per week on alternate days assigned by your odd or even numbered street address. Even numbered property addresses may irrigate Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; odd numbered property addresses may irrigate Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The use of pond water, rainwater and well water for irrigation is not governed by this section, nor is the watering of plant material and lawns by use of drip irrigation, watering cans, hand-held hoses, and other hand-held watering tools. H2GO has adopted a new irrigation policy:  1) to reduce peak-day demands on the water system; 2) to reduce excessive irrigation usage; 3) to prolong available water treatment and storage capacities for future water demands; 4) to reduce runoff from excessive irrigation; 5) to promote water conservation; and 6) to encourage environmental stewardship.

1)  Peak-Day Demands - There are more than 15,000 customers connected to H2GO's water system; and nearly 6,000 irrigation connections.  The non-peak daily demand on the water system requires less than 2.3 million gallons of water per day. Peak-day demands however, from irrigation usage by 40% of the customer base, more than double the average daily demand.  Peak-day demands in 2021 exceeded 5 million gallons per day – and our water system is adding 350 new irrigation connections each year.  H2GO’s irrigation policy, with alternating irrigation days, is designed to reduce peak-day demands on the water system.

2)  Irrigation Water Usage - Irrigation is meant to supplement turf-grass water requirements, not replace seasonal precipitation. H2GO billing records indicate many irrigation customers have frequently applied excessive monthly irrigation volumes.  To reduce excessive irrigation usage, it is recommended that supplemental irrigation depths be programmed into controllers based on the information provided on this reverse page.  Frequency of irrigation should be set for 3 events weekly – alternating on assigned days based on your odd/even street address.  Use of automatic control adjustments based on rainfall, temperature, and soil moisture can also help with effective turfgrass water management.  In addition to those suggested adjustments, deep rooting through thatch control, aeration, and moderate fertilization can save significant quantities of water.1 Effective turfgrass water management will help save money on monthly irrigation billings, too.

3)  Future Water Demands - Water system facilities are sized to meet peak demand periods. As previously mentioned, H2GO's peak-day demands have been more than double average daily demands - a direct result of excessive irrigation from 40% of the customer base.  The goal of this irrigation policy is to promote better water system and turfgrass management, to curb excessive irrigation usage, and reduce peak-day demands to less than 150% of average daily demands - that is a desired 25% to 30% reduction to the peak-day demands.  Reducing peak demands on the system prolongs available treatment and storage capacities for future service connections, and delays the need to capitalize, construct, and operate expanded facilities.

4) Irrigation Runoff - Runoff occurs when rootzones are saturated or when irrigation rates exceed the infiltration rate of the rootzone. Reducing irrigation runoff is an effective strategy for preventing surface water contamination by sediment, fertilizers, and pesticides moving with the runoff into storm sewers and downstream surface waters.

5)  Water Conservation – Hearing of and seeing the effects of water shortages in many sections of the country during the past decade, we should appreciate the value and need for conservation of water. More extensive droughts are forecast throughout the next decade, and we must become more conscious of water use. Only through careful management of our water resources now can we expect to have adequate, sustainable water supplies for the future.

6)  Environmental Stewardship - Environmental stewardship refers to responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices. We trust this irrigation policy and the recommended water management practices will encourage us all to be responsible environmental stewards.

In Closing - On behalf of the H2GO Commissioners, our apologies for the manner in which this new irrigation policy has been rolled out.  The RPZ testing letter and billing insert you may have received, was meant to be an alert to the new irrigation policy and to direct our customers to H2GO's website for detailed policy information and FAQ's.   www.H2GOonline.com/FAQ                    

I understand the policy language regarding non-compliance was not well received; and I can assure you it was not intended to threaten, but to incentivize the customer base.  Any penalties, if/when assessed, may be reserved for those customers that blatantly ignore irrigation schedules and make no effort to implement effective turfgrass water management practices. I am confident however; our customers will be water-wise and will embrace this irrigation policy to ensure sustainability of our water resources. If you have an exceptional situation, please contact us.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Bob Walker
H2GO Executive Director

Irrigation Water Usage - There are a number of variables that determine water requirements for warm-season turfgrass species, e.g., evapotranspiration rates, shoot and root characteristics, shoot and root density, growth habit, and cutting height.2   Warm-season turfgrass species, e.g., Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, Seashore Paspalum, St. Augustinegrass, and Zoysiagrass, have low to moderate evapotranspiration rates that range from 2 to 6 mm per day.3  During drought conditions, optimum irrigation is the amount of water needed for most efficient growth, maximum quality, and best appearance, i.e., 60% of the evapotranspiration rate for warm-season turfgrasses4 - which is about 1.0 inch of water per week to maintain warm-season turfgrasses in drought conditions.  

Local precipitation data during the growing season (April – October) was compiled for the years 2015 through 2021.  A 7-day rolling total of precipitation depth from that data is displayed in the chart below.

From the chart, the mean precipitation depth over time in a 7-day rolling total is 0.92 inches per week; 84% of the time, rainfall depth will fall below 2.93” per week over a 7-day rolling total; and 16% of time, rainfall depth will fall below 0.06” per week over a 7-day rolling total.  
The estimated maximum irrigation demand, using 1.0 inch per week for drought-condition irrigation, is 0.94” of irrigated water, or 3 irrigation events per week at 0.31” per day per lot.
[1.0 inch/week demand – 0.06 inch/week precipitation = 0.94 inch irrigation depth/drought-condition week]
To determine the maximum daily irrigation volume, use the following formula:

Example:  A 0.25 acre residential lot, less impervious areas (roof, drive, patio, sidewalk, etc.), may net a maximum irrigation area of about 0.16 acres.  From the chart and formulas, the drought-condition irrigation volume is 1,347 gallons per irrigation event.  At 3 events per week, the total weekly volume is 4,040 gallons of water for optimum irrigation in drought conditions. During non-drought conditions, from the chart and formulas - to supplement a 50th percentile precipitation depth - the irrigation volume is 130 gallons per irrigation event.  At 3 events per week, total weekly volume is less than 400 gallons of supplemental irrigation.

Recommendations:  To most effectively use this information, a turfgrass manager must be able to set the irrigation controller to deliver the desired amount of water.  Prior to setting irrigation run times, your turf manager should make a thorough audit of the irrigation system to identify any system deficiencies and to determine an irrigation rate. The irrigation rate is simply the rate in which the sprinkler heads will deliver water to the turfgrass.  It is a depth of water applied per unit time (usually reported as inches per hour). Once the audit is complete and a precipitation rate is known, one can then set an irrigation schedule.  Failure to apply the correct irrigation runtimes will lead to decreased efficiency and potential problems such as wasting of water or reduced turfgrass health.5 

1 Huang, Bingru, Turfgrass Water Requirements and Factors Affecting Water Usage
2 Beard, J. B., The Water-Use Rate of Turfgrasses
3 Harivandi, A. M., Managing Turfgrass During Drought
4 Duble, Richard L., Water Management on Turfgrasses




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