The Norman Transcript

September 29, 2013

Sprinkle sparingly, conserve water

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

The City of Norman is considering a year-round conservation watering schedule for lawn and garden sprinklers. I applaud the city council for its forward and proactive thinking.

However, rather than adopting the watering scheme that is typically used during summers when Lake Thunderbird levels are critically low, I propose an alternative conservation schedule that would not only save more water, it would also be more equitable and convenient for Norman’s residents.

Overall, this alternative watering plan would provide a win-win-win situation for the city, its residents and our water resources.

The alternative water plan represents a more conservative and equitable schedule than the typical scheme adopted some summers by the city, in which Wednesdays and Thursdays are designated as “no watering” days.

The remainder of the week is apportioned according to an odd-even schedule, where homes with odd numbered addresses water on days with odd numbered dates and homes with even numbered addresses water on days with even numbered dates.

Not only does the current plan inconvenience the hundreds of homeowners with automatic sprinkler systems (most computerized systems are based on day of the week rather than day of the month, and must therefore be reset each week), it does not treat homeowners on opposite sides of a street equitably.

For example, if the city plan were adopted for the entire calendar year of 2014, one side of a street would have 133 days to water while the neighbors across the street would have 127 days.

The alternative proposal is also simpler and more equitable while it would provide for a watering schedule more than adequate for maintaining healthy yards twice weekly.

There would be no difference in the number of watering days for citizens on one side of a street compared with those across the street. Everyone would have 104 days per year, which represents one day of watering for every three and a half days. An added benefit would be for those in the city with computer controlled automatic sprinklers as there would be no reason or need to reprogram or adjust the schedule every week.

The plan is simple; no watering on Wednesdays, Saturdays or Sundays for a total of 157 days of no watering. Homes with odd numbered addresses water on Mondays and Thursdays and those with even numbered addresses water on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Granted, this proposed system would reduce the total number of days that citizens could use sprinkler systems in their yards and gardens by 23 to 29 days compared with the city’s plan, but that is precisely the point of a water conservation plan. Like the city’s plan, the alternate system would also encourage deeper watering which is well known to be the better strategy for maintaining a healthy root system in most grasses used in lawns.

Thus, it is likely that fewer days of watering might encourage longer watering times for some homeowners, which would reduce the overall water saving potential of a conservation plan, but that would hold true for any plan that restricts days of watering.

As a final note, while it is unfortunate that the laws of the State of Oklahoma do not allow for government regulation of ground water use on private lands, other than the permitting of drilling, the city should encourage homeowners in the city with private wells to observe the same watering plan as the homeowners who lack private wells—a noble gesture of neighborly solidarity.

Equally important, however, while different laws govern different water bodies, ground water aquifers and surface waters in our streams and reservoirs are all inextricably linked within the same hydrological cycle.

Therefore, conservation of ground waters will have equally beneficial impacts as conservation of surface waters.

Dave Hambright