Why should I be concerned about how much water my irrigation system uses?

Homes and businesses should be concerned about how much water their irrigation system use because water is a limited resource and demand and cost are increasing.

 Water is a Limited Resource

Fresh Water Use in the United States

Fresh Water Use in the United States

Water is a limited, but naturally recycling resource.  It’s generally accepted that…

  • 97% of the world’s water lies in the oceans and seas
  • 2% is locked up as glacial ice
  • 1% is available for human use

Thirty-six states anticipate that even under average conditions, they will experience freshwater shortages in the next 10 years. – U.S. General Accounting Office (2003) A Journal of Environmental Quality study concluded that

the main cause for excessive landscape water use in most situations is the human factor.  The waste of water results from improper irrigation practices and poor landscape designs…

 US Population Growth

The United States has the highest population growth rates of any industrialized country in the world.

  • The U.S. population is growing by about 3.2 million people each year.
  • Eight states have population growth rates over 2.0%, which means their population will double in less than 35 years. Florida’s population has grown from 1.9 million in 1940 to 15 million today.
  • Since 1980, the U.S. has converted more than 10 million acres of forest to suburb — an area twice as large as Yellowstone, Everglades, Shenandoah, and Yosemite National Parks combined.

 Water Cost Trends

Costs for water and sewer services are increasing steadily.  As the map at right illustrates, water rates rose between 100% and 400% in some areas between 1986 and 1996.

Water Rates: combined water and sewer rates ($/1000 gallons)

Water Rates 1986-96
combined water and sewer rates ($/1000 gallons)

“The sharply increasing water prices that we can empirically observe today in a few select and water-deficient regions are likely to be predictive of trends that will develop in many other parts of the world tomorrow.”

Steve Maxwell TechKNOWLEDGEy Strategies Group

Landscape Water Use

Domestic Water Usage

Domestic Water Usage

  • Typical family of four spends $820/year on water & sewer.
  • Outdoor water use averages about 117 gallons per home per day – 37% of total
  • Outdoor use varies greatly – can be two to three times greater in hot dry areas and even more so for commercial properties.

Government Involvement

Voluntary Regulation

Local, state, & national government are getting more involved in water management. The Water Sense program developed and implemented by the EPA is a good example. Water Sense is a voluntary labeling program developed by the EPA.  A nationally recognized label for water efficient products will complement and enhance the many local initiatives that now offer incentives and rebates for water conserving products to reduce the demand on their drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.

Ed Osann Potomac Resources, Inc.

Additional non-direct costs

  • Liability: personal injury; runoff violation fines; water intrusion damages
  • Landscaping: overwatering is the cause of 80% of plant problems.
  • Curb Appeal: increased awareness & market value
  • Hardscape Damage: overwatering can reduce hardscape lifespan by 3