With the dearth of sunshine of late, you’re probably not thinking too much of watering your lawn.
But Woodbury has already cited a handful of residents who have violated the city’s watering policy this spring.
Lawn watering is the “single biggest component that affects the water system,” City Engineer Klayton Eckles said.
The city’s policy, which is in effect year-round, allows people who live on the odd side of the street to water their lawns on odd days, and vice versa for those on the even side. Also, there is a ban on watering between noon and 5 p.m. each day.
Several cities have similar measures in place, Eckles said, and the policy helps keep infrastructure costs down. The city is entirely serviced by well water; one new well costs $1 million to construct, he said.
Part of the issue lies with the growing number of new homes in Woodbury, Eckles said.
“People are trying to establish their grass and we see pretty high water usage because of that,” he said.
During winter, residents use about 5 million gallons of water a day; in summer that figure jumps to more than 20 million. The average household uses 15,000 to 20,000 gallons of water a quarter during winter months; it goes up to about 70,000 during the summer.
That extra usage can get costly. Eckles heard of a resident a few years ago who had a quarterly water bill around $2,000.
The city uses a “progressive” system when charging for water: 88 cents for the first 30,000 gallons, $1.88 for the next 1,000, and continuing at that rate as usage increases.
Eckles suggested that people turn off their automatic sprinklers.
“It becomes very easy to use more water than you actually need,” he said, adding that people can utilize shade trees, rain barrels and rain gardens to help conserve water.
Even though most residents are aware of the policy—Eckles put it at 96 percent—the city hands out about 500 citations each summer. The fines, too, are progressive: $25 for the first offense, $50 for the next and so on. City officials will more closely monitor homes as the days get warmer and dryer, he said.
Over-watering a lawn can also lead to “shallow-rooted grass,” which requires more water, Eckles said. By watering grass less frequently, it will need less water over time, he said.
For a link to the city’s watering policy, which includes more details and options for permits to water more, click here.