The big question on everyone’s mind seems to be how to stay within your water allocation. Here in Montecito, there is mandatory water rationing and it can be expensive if you go over your allocation. The reality is sinking in that El Nino 2016 may not give us the drought relief we had hoped for. Despite the fact that Northern California has seen significant rainfall, we are a long way from recovery. And now with this heat wave, there is no rain in sight. Here’s the step by step on how to stay within your water allocation.

Step-By-Step: Staying Within Your Allocation

1. Know your allocation:

Your monthly allocation is on your bill.

2. Learn to read your water meter:

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Taking a photo of your water meter makes it easier to read

Sometimes the meter is in a hole or otherwise hard to read. I take a photo of the reading with my phone so I can access it later.

3. Check for line leaks:

Turn off all water and see if the little triangle is moving or if the numbers are moving. If the meter is moving, you have a leak. Call a plumber.

4. Get to know your irrigation controller:

Hopefully, you have a schedule that tells you what areas of your garden are watered what days, for how much time and with what method (sprinklers, sprayers or drip). If not, take notes when you do step #5.

4a. Do Not Water Automatically:

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Keep your irrigation controller turned off

Even if you have an automatic irrigation controller, turn the dial to off and water manually only.

5. Test your irrigation system for leaks:

broken pipes or geysers. This should be done at least once a month. Turn on one station at a time and “walk the line” just like Johnny Cash. You should be able to see if there are breaks or leaks or broken emitters. Fix what you find.

6. Find out how much each watering station uses:

Once any leaks are repaired do the following with each station: Read your meter. Run the station. Read meter again. Note down the number. You now know how much water each station uses. Write it all down.

7. Work out how many waterings you have per month:

You know your monthly allocation, you know how much water each irrigation station uses, now work out how many times you can water per month.

Managing your water:

If you have made it to step 7, you know how much each station uses and have calculated how many times you can water each month. There are many variables, but if you can water once a week, you should be okay. If your not, it’s time to find out why.

Next time we will help you work out why you may be using too much water in your landscape and how to fix it.

Until then, fill your garden with joy!

xo Lisa