There’s been a lot of hubbub lately in my neighborhood on the good ol’ fashioned use of sprinklers in a time when, frankly, we Lake Travis locals have seen a veritable poop-ton of rain.
You know the scene — you’re driving or rather floating down the street on your merry little way to H-E-B, waves of water slamming down on your windshield with tsunami force, when you see it. Sprinklers running full blast in the HOA common areas.
Your eye gets that funny little twitch of agitation which over time will result in a crease no amount of Botox can heal. This kind of waste really gets to you, and pounding fist on steering wheel you vow to raise a stink at the next board meeting darn it all.
But your annoyance over such an environmental (and monetary) slap in the face, grows to sheer panic as you realize that your very own sprinklers are likely going off. Right now.
Being the responsible homeowner that you are, you of course slam on the gas while careening around the car in front of you and hopping the curb to take the next loop back home to shut off the water — which at this point, is akin to sopping twenties shooting skyward before landing useless and sad on your saturated lawn. Godspeed.
Water usage cyber-brawls
While such a scenario is an exaggeration (but not really), all this rain we’ve been seeing is causing an odd problem for water usage. Namely, most of us just aren’t used to letting Mother Nature tend our yards and so we forget the little things like sprinkler timers and pipe maintenance.
Come billing time we are reduced to tears and forced to tell our kids that no, they cannot go to college because water’s not free and we gotta pay The Man. This is of course very confusing to their cute little brains and in an attempt to help, they begin collecting rain in every cup you own, turning the backyard into the most astounding of desperate tea parties. Again, an exaggeration. Maybe.
At any rate, if you’re part of a neighborhood group like Nextdoor, then you’ve no doubt seen the all too common rantings on sprinklers and high water bills. In our area, real classy debates on the use of any water at all for lawns has erupted into epic cyber-brawls. It’s ugly. People cry. But the people have a point.
Irrigation issues or false meter readings?
Over at the Lakeway Municipal Utility District (MUD) office, the most commonly cited source for a high water bill is “irrigation issues.” Plainly put, you’ve either got a busted pipe or (and this is generally the real culprit) you’re running your sprinklers as if the Bellagio fountains are weak sauce. And while the MUD admits that sometimes a false meter reading is to blame, more often than not it’s a simple case of poor or neglectful watering habits.
While we know it’s no fun, paying more attention to your watering is one way to lower those bills. (Also quit washing your car every three days, overachiever. And tell your son to stop showering for 35 minutes — or better yet — just act like a normal teen and abandon bathing altogether). It’s also worth considering that country-wide, the once coveted pristine lawn is becoming a thing of the past.
While golfer’s greens will never embrace the dandelion and “brown out,” the trend towards more enviro-friendly turf and hardscapes abound. Now I’m not suggesting you stop mowing, let your yard go to weed and drive your neighbors to drink even more at the mere sight of your abode. But consulting a lawn service on proper watering schedules could go a long way towards lower water bills and less wear and tear on your irrigation system.
How to avoid water jail — it’s complicated
On a community level, reaching out to your HOA on common area maintenance and watering can greatly affect the ways in which dues are spent. Such involvement is a win-win for your social life and your pocket book.
Offering more information than you’ll ever need on the subject of watering, is the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). They provide really great tips and tidbits on the subject, as well as posting the most up-to-date watering schedules, rules and regulations for your home.
Just be sure you pay close attention here — your legal watering days are determined by a multitude of details and facts that must be kept straight, in order to avoid water jail. Time of the day, time of the week, time of the year and your zodiac sign all determine your use of this valuable resource. Also, if utilizing a bucket the rules are different, and you must wear a vintage apron displaying a minimum of two mammals at said time of use.
In a time when Lake Travis locals are soaking in flash floods on a strangely regular basis, our watering should be about zilch. Overall it’s really very simple and hardly much of a mystery why water bills creep up. Put the hose down and step away from the spigot.