Weather can be unpredictable. Carefully developed plans for days spent in the great outdoors can be derailed by unexpected rainstorms, while sudden bursts of sunshine can turn overcast afternoons into chances to get outside and breathe some fresh air.
Lawn and garden enthusiasts know just how mercurial Mother Nature can be, especially during summer. The specter of drought looms every summer, but the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center does not anticipate any broad-scale areas of drought developing in the Lower 48 states in 2020. While that’s good news for lawn and garden enthusiasts, it’s wise to remain prepared for drought.
In recognition of the difficulties drought can pose, the Environmental Protection Agency offers the following tips to homeowners to ensure that water is available to meet critical needs.
- Learn local regulations. During dry periods and droughts, local water utilities put restrictions in place. These restrictions are not meant to be nuisances, but designed to ensure water is available to fight fires and meet other critical needs. Adhering to these guidelines, no matter how difficult they can be, helps your community stay safe. Periodically visit local water utilities’ websites to learn if there are any restrictions in place.
- Inspect fixtures for leaks. Conservation is the goal of water restrictions. Leaky fixtures compromise conservation efforts, so inspect all interior and exterior faucets and pipes for leaks and fix them immediately.
- Look into upgrades. Upgrading outdated bathrooms and other water features can be a great way to conserve water without changing daily habits. For example, the EPA estimates that water-conserving toilets can reduce water consumption by as much as 60 percent each year. That saves consumers money while also helping them to conserve during droughts or periods of dryness.
- Water wisely. The EPA notes that experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of the water we use outdoors is lost to evaporation, wind or runoff due to overwatering. The EPA recommends watering primarily in the early morning and evening, after the sun goes down, so less water is lost to evaporation. If you have an irrigation system that uses a clock timer, consider replacing the timer with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller, which acts like a thermostat for a sprinkler system, using local weather and landscape conditions to tell the sprinkler system when to turn itself on and off.
Drought and dry conditions in summer highlight the importance of conserving water.