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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 9:46 pm | Fair 50º


Water Usage a Hot Topic in September

Residents can receive a free water checkup to avoid watering too much

September competes with other summer months for the highest water usage of the year. For suggestions on how to water gardens efficiently and keep your water bills within budget, residents and businesses can take advantage of the free water-use consultations provided by eight water providers in the county.

Call your water provider for a free water checkup:

» Carpinteria Valley Water District: 805.684.2816 x116

» City of Lompoc: 805.875.8298

» City of Santa Barbara: 805.564.5460

» La Cumbre Mutual Water Co.: 805.967.2376 x15

» City of Santa Maria: 805.925.0951 x7235

» Golden State Water Co.: 800.999.4033

» Goleta Water District: 805.964.6761 x643

» Montecito Water District: 805.969.2271    

Irrigation is the No. 1 source of residential water usage, but most homeowners water too much. With a hot September causing lawns and gardens to grow even thirstier, water customers can call for a free water checkup to get help determining how much is too much.

“September is the month that deep-rooted trees and hedges start showing signs of water stress. The last deep-soaking rain was back in March, six months ago,” said Cathie Pare, City of Santa Barbara landscape irrigation auditor.

She suggests mimicking a rainstorm at least once this month for trees, depending on their size, type and other factors.

“Apply the water slowly, under the drip line (canopy of the tree) to reach all the small feeder roots,” she said. “Use a soil probe to determine how deep into the soil the water has percolated and use a thick layer of mulch — at least 3 inches — to hold in the moisture and to add organic material and nutrients to the soil.”

For online watering help, click here and refer to the Santa Barbara County Landscape Watering Calculator.

Once you’ve determined 100 percent of the lawn’s watering needs during the hottest month of the year, you’re ready to take advantage of the Watering Index. It’s a percentage of the maximum water needs. It may exceed 100 percent depending on weather conditions. Click here for the countywide Watering Index. Click here for the City of Santa Barbara.

Automatic sprinkler systems with sprinkler controllers that have a setting called “seasonal adjust” or “water budget” allow users to change the Watering Index easily. Turn the dial to that setting and press the up or down arrows to adjust the percentage.

— Cathie Pare is a landscape irrigation auditor for the City of Santa Barbara Public Works Department, Water Resources Division.

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