Conserving water, one drop at a time
With Price City and the rest of the state dealing with severe drought problems, a summer-long project to test water systems at homes and businesses may have provided some insight to save water in thirsty times.
Lauren Nel, a student at USU Logan, spent her summer months performing tests on over 80 water systems of local residents, businesses and city and county areas carefully checking and noting the amount of water used during watering cycles.
The distribution uniformity, also known as DU, of the homes and areas she tested averaged a DU of 40 percent. The DU percentage homeowners should shoot for is 60 percent, Nel explained. For example, golf courses look to word towards a DU of 80 percent to make the greens and fairways as green as possible.
"Every lawn is unique," Nel explained. "People generally understand what they need to do to take care of a yard but there are some techniques they can use to cut down water usage and still have a nice yard."
The project, which was funded through the a $5,000 grant and help from Price City, Price River Water Improvement District and Helper City, saw Nel visit homes and other areas to check the workings of water systems in those areas. Nel used a variety of tools including blue catch cups which she used to cover any one particular area of a yard which after testing would tell how well the water being used was hitting every part of the yard.
Nel said many homeowners with automated watering systems typically turned the water on for a set period of time and left it to be watered as such throughout the spring and summer months.
But instead of turning on the water for long periods of time, the water tests conducted by Nel showed that homeowners could utilize water cycles. Price resident Sam Rawson watched in early June as Nel performed a test on his yard's watering system. At the end of the test, Nel discussed options with Rawson that included watering for a total of 40 minutes, with that being split into two 20 minutes sessions a few times a week. Before the test, Rawson said he was watering for 50 minutes three days a week.
Rawson said shortly after implementing the ideas given to him by Nel, the new watering techniques have not only helped make his lawn look much healthier and eliminated problems with dead spots in certain areas, but it has noticeably cut back the amount of water he uses to maintain his yards and plants.
"It's done a real good job for us," Rawson said of the new watering techniques at his house near 300 North. "It's cut down on water usage and my wife tells me it's much more green and full looking all across the yards."
While having a check performed on a water system may not be a possibility for everyone, Nel said homeowners can do a few simple actions to improve their yards including making sure sprinkler heads are clear of any weeds or debris, watering during the evening or early morning hours to maximize the use of water, making sure sprinklers are evenly hitting all areas of a yard with water and more.
Other than homes, Nel said he performed water tests on places including the playground at the fairgrounds and at the Carbon High School soccer field and the football field. Nel said the football field performed the best out of the three, with the soccer field and playground at the fairgrounds not performing well in the tests.
Ron Patterson, an extension agent with USU, said it was good to have a project like this available to homeowners in the area. With the drought conditions facing the state, it makes the project and it's effect on people that much more important, he said.
"It's good to offer a service like this to the public to help improve the usage of water especially during times like this and hopefully it will help people to not just think of water usage only during a drought," said Patterson.
Despite spending long hours out in the sun performing water tests, Nel said the project was worthwhile in helping out homeowners as well as working to conserve water in tough times.
"I loved the work," said Nel. "We got a great response to the project from the community and hopefully this will help residents to learn more about things they can do to conserve water while keeping their yards as green as possible."