Guest column: Water less to save water and help sustain our water supply

Ann B. Shortelle, Ph.D., Executive Director
St. Johns River Water Management District

Dear Historic City News editor:

The St. Johns River Water Management District wants Historic City News readers to know that we have launched a new, year-long “Water Less” campaign to help raise awareness about water conservation and to communicate easy ways to integrate outdoor water conservation into our daily lives without sacrificing curb appeal.

While the cumulative rainfall total is 3.7 inches below the long-term average over the last 12 months across the district’s 18-county region, smart water use is a year-round tool to maintain and manage your investment in your home, family and future. It’s important to know that you can practice water conservation and still love your lawn.

Throughout the next year, the Water Less conservation focus will shift each season to reflect the unique water needs of Florida lawns and landscaping, starting with “Fall Back” in November to encourage once-a-week watering as we enter cooler weather.

When lawns go dormant this winter and need less water, the campaign focus becomes “Skip a Week,” to encourage skipping every other week of irrigation.

Did you set it and forget it? In spring, the campaign emphasizes taking control of your irrigation system to make it work for you while also saving water.

The summer Water Less campaign theme is “Watch the weather, wait to water” — a reminder in Florida’s typically rainy summer that there’s a good chance Mother Nature will water for you.

Many people don’t realize lawn and landscape irrigation makes up about half of Floridians’ daily residential water use. Improving landscape irrigation practices can save water and improve your landscape’s quality at the same time. Overwatering can encourage mold and fungus, weaken grass roots and promote weeds and undesirable insects.

Water is wasted when broken or misdirected sprinkler heads spray water onto sidewalks and pavement, and water runoff from oversaturated yards often carries fertilizers, debris and nutrients into natural waterways, which leads to poor water quality.

One of the most important ways to help meet our water supply needs for today and in the future is through water conservation.  Year-round water conservation is an easy way to invest in the future, while still maintaining thriving lawns and landscapes. Utilities, homeowners’ associations, local governments and municipalities, and individuals interested in water conservation all play an incredibly important role in this initiative.

We’re grateful to those whose water conservation behaviors are helping lead to big improvements for our precious water supplies. Visit the campaign website, waterlessflorida.com, and follow us on social media to learn more and help spread the Water Less message.