One way to green your business is to identify ways to be more efficient with your outdoor water use. Some steps that business owners can take include efficient landscape design, efficient outdoor maintenance, minimizing turf areas and evaluating your sprinkler system. Your business may also want to hire a water efficient landscaping professional. Don’t forget to check out the business rebates available in your area.
As the rains decrease and temperatures rise, water use increases and irrigation can be expensive. Water utilities see a dramatic increase in water use during the summer; normally due to an increase in outdoor irrigation. To keep your summer water bills in check, learn how to make your landscape water efficient.
Excessive irrigation increases our water’s cost, depletes our water supply, increases pollution run-off from lawn and landscape chemicals, wastes energy and requires additional time and labor. As our communities grow, we can either build costly facilities or we can conserve water to reduce the demand on our existing limited supply.
Hiring the Right Landscaping Professional
Often it makes sense for businesses to hire a landscaping professional. Look for certified landscapers or ask landscapers how they ensure that your landscaping is efficiently using water when you hire them. Learn what questions to ask to select a qualified landscape professional in How to Choose a Landscape Company. Thurston County participates in the relatively new ecoPro landscaping certification program. Check out their website to find a certified landscaper in your area or learn more about what to ask your landscaper to ensure that they are using sustainable landscape practices.
Water conservation starts with a smart landscape design.
Water-Smart Landscape Design Tips
- Plan ahead for a water-smart landscape
- Recognize site conditions and plant appropriately
- Group plants according to water needs
- Use regionally appropriate, drought-tolerant and native plants
- Minimize and place lawns strategically
- Use organic slow release fertilizers, compost and mulch
- Install new plants and turf during the fall when the rain will irrigate for you
Lawns are Thirsty
Lawns can use 2 to 3 times as much water as other plants in the landscape. In addition, watering lawns is inefficient; up to 50% of water is lost to evaporation, runoff, over spray and overwatering. If you want to include lawn in your landscape, consider how much lawn your business needs. Then try to pick a cool season grass and implement natural lawn care practices.
Spruce up Your Sprinklers
The main sources of wasted irrigation water include poor irrigation scheduling, inefficient irrigation systems and poor maintenance.
Here are four tips from the EPA on efficient sprinkler care.
- Inspect – Check for clogged, broken or missing sprinkler heads. Use the right kind of sprinkler nozzles for the area being watered. Move or raise blocked sprinkler heads.
- Connect – Examine where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes or hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system.
- Direct – Keep water off of sidewalks and driveways, and direct water only to landscaped areas. Turn off sprinkler heads that are not needed.
- Select – An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste water and money. Update your system’s water schedule to align with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled weather based irrigation controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling.
Other Landscape Practices for Efficient Water Use
- Monitor your water bill – unusually high water use may help you identify a leak
- Perform a water audit – see where water goes and where it is wasted
- Sweep or blow paved areas instead of hosing off
- Control hose flow with automatic shut-off nozzle
- Do not install or use water features, unless they recycle the water
- Fix leaking hose connections with hose gaskets and Teflon tape.
Mandatory Watering Schedules
Some jurisdictions use mandatory watering schedules to reduce peak demand during the summer and encourage water conservation. Check to see if your water service provider has an irrigation schedule. Lacey has a mandatory irrigation schedule that is enforced June 1st thru September 30th of each year.
Outdoor Rebates within Thurston County
Lacey has a Commercial Irrigation Upgrade Rebate. This program provides a rebate for up to 50% of the cost of upgrading irrigation system components to more water efficient components. The maximum rebate depends on the size and number of water meters used by the commercial irrigation account. ¾-inch meters are eligible for rebates of up to $250; 6-inch meters are eligible for rebates of up to $10,000. To be eligible, projects must be approved prior to installation.
For more information about Lacey rebates and other water conservation information, contact Kim Benedict at (360) 438-2687.
Olympia offers irrigation rebates of up to $2,500 to upgrade irrigation systems. Apply for the rebate prior to purchase. Once you receive an approval letter, purchase and install the equipment then submit the invoice for rebate.
For more information about Olympia rebates and other water conservation information, contact Erin Conine at (360) 753-8271.
Tumwater also has irrigation rebates available. This program provides a rebate of up to $200 to install a weather-based irrigation device. Call to check on availability.
For more information about Tumwater rebates and water conservation ideas contact Amy Georgeson at (360) 754-4144.
Indoor Rebates for Businesses Connected to LOTT
In addition, to the rebates above, all businesses served by the LOTT sewer system are also eligible for WaterSmart Technology Rebates. These rebates cover up to 75% of the cost for indoor water-efficient upgrades. Some of the projects that maybe eligible include installation of high-efficiency toilets/urinals, ice machines, washing machines, sink faucets, spray nozzles and other water-saving equipment. Contact your City representative listed above for additional information.