In this edition of the Q&A, El Dorado Irrigation District Director of Communications and Customer Services Mary Lynn Carlton talks with EID Meter Services Supervisor Jim Pritchard and Water Use Efficiency Technician Bill Cassady about the district’s new watering restrictions. The following are some of our customers’ frequently asked questions.
Q: How long should I water my grass?
A: There are a number of variables that affect this answer, including: the root zone, soil composition, slope, type of spray nozzle used, even the footprint of the yard and irrigation design all play major roles in determining how long to water. The best way is to start with whatever run time you currently use, and from there, work towards two main objectives: 1) water to the plant’s root zone; and 2) have no water runoff. Use the following steps to accomplish these two objectives.
Step 1 — Run your irrigation system for whatever length of time you would normally water the grass during the heat of summer.
Step 2 — Wait 10 or 15 minutes after irrigation stops, and then use a trowel (or any other suitable device) to cut out a plug of grass. Look for the root zone, which is how deep the roots go into the soil (likely less than 2.5 inches); AND how far down the soil is moistened.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 as necessary until the soil is moistened to the same depth as the root zone, keeping track of the total minutes. This is how long you should water.
Step 3 — Now that you have determined how long you need to run your irrigation system, you will want to make sure no water runs off when you irrigate.
For example, if you found the need to run the zone for 20 minutes, but water starts to run off after 10 minutes, you will need to “cycle and soak.” This simply means you set your timer to run for 10 minutes, and after a half-hour to an hour break, apply the remaining 10 minutes. Some yards may be able to absorb the water during the entire time without doing a cycle and soak, while others may need to break up the cycles even further, i.e., four run times of five minutes each for this example.
Q: Should I water longer on the days I am allowed to water during mandatory watering restrictions?
A: No. If you have taken the steps above, watering longer will only result in one of two outcomes — neither of which are good. You will either have water runoff or you will have deep percolation, which is water going deeper than the plant can draw on, and both of these waste your money and precious water resources.
Q: I’m confused about when I should water on my scheduled days.
A: The watering period begins at midnight on the date which corresponds to the last number in your street address and ends at 11:59 pm, with breaks in between during the day. For example, if your watering days are Wednesday and Sunday, your watering hours would be as follows:
Wednesday from midnight until 10 a.m. and then again from 7 p.m. until 11:59 pm.
Sunday from midnight until 10 a.m. and then again from 7 p.m. until 11:59 pm.
No watering is allowed on any day between 10:00 am and 7:00 pm due to high evaporation potential. No Monday watering is permitted for anyone during Stage 2 drought.
Q: Does the mandated irrigation schedule pertain to animals and livestock watering?
A: No, it applies only to irrigation watering.
Q: I have a weather-based irrigation controller which controls my watering cycles? Does this mandated schedule apply to me?
A: Yes, you have to set your weather-based controlled to match our mandated schedule. The controller can be programmed to restrict water on certain days.
Q: Are potted plants on my deck and my vegetable garden affected by the mandated irrigation schedule?
A: If your potted plants are on a drip watering system, then you must comply with the mandated schedule. If they are not, then you are not required to comply to the mandated schedule. All vegetable gardens must be irrigated according to the mandated schedule.
Q: I understand that the district allows exemptions to the mandated irrigation schedule for non-residential customer accounts.Tell me more about that.
A: Yes, this is an option for non-residential customers — Commercial/Landscape (CII), Recycled, Recreational Turf, Small Farm — if a detailed conservation plan is submitted to the district’s Water Efficiency division that demonstrates a minimum 30 percent water savings over the customer’s average 2011-2013 use. Customers must comply with the mandated schedule, however, until the district determines that the conservation plan is acceptable, confirms the actual conservation and then grants an exemption.
Q: You don’t mention Agricultural customers in this category as a group that is eligible for an exemption. Are they?
A: Ag customers already abide by the irrigation requirements set forth in our Drought Action Plan for the stage we are current in (Stage 2), as many participate in the Irrigation Management Service conservation program. Non-IMS agricultural customers must also submit a conservation plan to be granted an exemption.