Water management tips during times of drought

With all of Illinois experiencing one of the driest weather periods since records have been maintained, it’s important for everyone to understand and practice good water management regardless of the source of their water supply, reports the Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals.

Whether your water comes from a surface supply (lakes or rivers) or groundwater (public or private wells) it’s important to practice good water management. Over a long period of time, lack of rain will result in drought conditions that can affect public and private water systems. When municipalities institute watering restrictions, it’s to ensure there will be an adequate water supply to meet essential needs.

Households served by private wells should also keep in mind good water management practices. A drought’s impact on a private well depends a lot on the geology of the area, number of private wells in the area and the age of the well. Nevertheless, practicing water management may prevent the need for a service call to adjust for a drop in the water table.

Awareness is the first step in being “water conscious,” states Larry Lyons, licensed Illinois water well contractor and president of the Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals (IAGP). “We need to remember that even though water may be a renewable resource, the renewing process, known as the hydrological cycle, is not an overnight process and a lot depends on soil characteristics. The process can vary from months to hundreds of years. Since many factors contribute to water recharge, we shouldn’t be wasteful.”

Watering lawns and gardens is a frequent concern in dry periods, and keeping in mind a few things will help keep plants alive while being conscientious of water usage. Watering during the heat of the day can actually cause plants to burn and is also highly inefficient as up to 90 percent of the water can be lost through evaporation.

IAGP recommends the following best practices and encourages everyone to get into the habit of better water management:

Outside the home

Water only during the coolest part of the day, it’s less windy and reduces evaporation.

Water the lawn only when needed; if grass springs back after walking on it, it doesn’t need watering.

Set sprinklers to water the lawn or garden and not the sidewalk.

uSoaker hoses and trickle irrigation systems can reduce water use by 20–50 percent.

Set lawn mower blades higher to increase natural ground shade and water retention in the soil.

Mulch around shrubs and garden plants will reduce evaporation and cut down on weeds.

Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks.

Use a hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle when washing cars, lawn furniture, pets, etc. When not in use, don’t let the hose flow freely.

Inside the home

Don’t let the faucet continuously run while washing dishes; use a dish pan to hold rise water.

Use a glass for rinse water when brushing teeth instead of letting the faucet run. Shave the same way.

Take short showers instead of baths and consider bathing small children together.

Don’t use the toilet as a trash can.

Refrigerate a bottle of water instead of letting a faucet flow until the water runs cold.

Run washing machines and dishwashers only with full loads.

Water management should be practiced at all times and not just during a drought. Water management should also include protecting groundwater and surface water against contamination.

Illinois uses approximately 1 billion gallons of groundwater daily for irrigation, public supply, industrial/commercial, and domestic purposes.

The Illinois Association of Groundwater Professionals (IAGP) is dedicated to the understanding of groundwater, its protection and effective use through education, good science and advocacy. Members of IAGP include water well contractors, manufacturers and suppliers of water well products, regulatory agencies, and other interested parties.

More information about groundwater and water wells can be found at www.iagp.org or call Sue Bohenstengel, IAGP executive director, at 800-990-2209.

From the July 20-26, 2005, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!