Hyrum City arborist shares water conservation tips (with audio)

HYRUM — With the summer watering season quickly approaching, arborist Preston Culver has important information to share with the community about how to water responsibly. Serving as Hyrum City’s liaison with <a href=”https://www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA/” target=”_blank”>Tree City USA</a>, Culver addressed the Hyrum City Council on May 4, providing suggestions on how best to develop watering systems and schedules that meet the needs of lawns, trees, shrubs, gardens and ornamental flowers without wasting water.

According to information published by the <a href=”https://conservewater.utah.gov/why.html” target=”_blank”>Utah Division of Water Resources</a>, Utah uses the most water per capita in the U.S., but receives the second lowest amount of annual rainfall. This means, said Culver, that it’s especially important to understand proper watering methods and irrigation guidelines.  He shared a website with the council, <a href=”http://www.conservewaterutah.gov/”>www.conservewaterutah.gov</a>, that he believes everyone in Cache Valley should use.

“This is an outstanding tool,” he said. “It’s very usable, and it would be way better than people just shooting from the hip.”

During his presentation, Culver shared a complex scientific formula with the council explaining “evapotranspiration.” As <a href=”https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleevapotranspiration.html” target=”_blank”>defined by the U.S. Geological Survey</a>, evapotranspiration is “the water lost to the atmosphere from the ground surface, evaporation from the capillary fringe of the groundwater table, and the transpiration of groundwater by plants whose roots tap the capillary fringe of the groundwater table.” Much more simply put, Culver said the term refers to the exchange between precipitation and loss of water from plant leaves and the ground’s surface as impacted by soil type, the sun, temperature, humidity, wind, etc.

“Don’t water when it’s windy. Don’t water in the heat of the day,” he said. “Basically, if you just look at the soil, you can tell if it’s wet or not.  If it’s wet, you don’t need to water. If it’s running off or running away, that’s too much water or too fast.”

Much of the information Culver shared is nothing new. He recommends taking into account soil types when planting and watering, watering deeply and less frequently to promote deep root growth and conducting a property irrigation audit to gauge sprinkler system efficiency.  He said one “irrigation” of a lawn is equivalent to 1/2″ of water.

“Don’t water in the rain,” he reminded the council, quipping that he’s seen the water on at city parks during wet weather. “And drip irrigation, that’s king. If you want to conserve water, install drip irrigation, especially with your gardens.”

Culver said property owners can be confident that as long as lawns are getting a deep watering, trees are getting sufficient water, too. He said simple instructions for conducting a water audit are available on Conserve Water Utah’s website, and <a href=”https://extension.usu.edu/” target=”_blank”>USU Extension</a> is available to help.

“What the average citizen needs to know is to check that website every week. Any citizen that’s doing that is doing a great job of managing their water,” he said. “If you do an irrigation audit, you can improve things…It all goes back to that website that I shared, and it really is pretty darn good.”

As of Thursday, May 4, Culver said there is no current need to water lawns anywhere in Cache Valley. He said the irrigation recommendations at <a href=”http://www.conservewaterutah.gov/” target=”_blank”>www.conservewaterutah.gov</a> are updated weekly. 

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jennifer@cvradio.com

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