Hot, dry weather continues and customer water demand for irrigation, recreation and hydration has once again increased to near record levels. As a result, Des Moines Water Works and suburban Des Moines area water utilities who receive their water from Des Moines Water Works are once again issuing a peak water alert for the Des Moines metro area.
The peak water alert program is issued when temperatures exceed 95 degrees, a heat wave is in progress, there is no rain fall and none forecasted for the upcoming days and/or we are approaching a record pumpage for the day.
The Des Moines metro area customers reduced usage to the low 80 million gallons per day after the first peak alert was issued on July 5, but usage has increased to 87 million gallons on Monday, 88 million gallons on Tuesday and appears even greater today. The record usage of 92 million gallons a day was set in June 2006.
“While there is sufficient amount of water in our rivers and reservoir storage to meet the present usage of our customers, river flow is trending downward that could result in Des Moines Water Works asking the Army Corps of Engineers to release water from storage in Saylorville for the first time in 30 years when the reserve storage was initially purchased.” says Randy Beavers, General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “We want customers to be safe and hydrated while working or recreating outside. However, we ask customers to be mindful of their water uses during this prolonged hot, dry period. ”
Wise use of water is defined as being alert to and repairing leaking household fixtures, taking advantage of technological advances to eliminate waste and avoiding irrigation use during the hottest part of the day.
With the assistance of customers voluntarily following the peak water alert tips, Des Moines metro utilities can guarantee efficient use of the water supply. The following tips are suggested during this water peak alert:
- Customers and businesses voluntarily avoid lawn watering, whether from an in-ground sprinkler system or manual sprinkler, during the day time hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Evaporation from the sun is highest during this time period and less water is absorbed into the soil, meaning more water must be used to get the same effect than if watering is done outside these hours.
- Customers voluntarily shift watering to no more frequently than the ODD numbered days of the week if their house or business address ends with an ODD number and EVEN numbered days if their house address ends with an EVEN number. For example, if your house number is “1521,” it is suggested that you water on the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and so on days of the month during the time period when there is a peak water alert.
- Repair leaking sprinkler heads and ensure that each head is properly directing its spray onto the turf and landscape.
- Most soils in the Des Moines area can support a healthy turf, if watered no more frequently than every other day. ISU Extension pamphlet PM 1063, found at their Web page: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1063.pdf, says “Kentucky Bluegrass will withstand drought by becoming dormant. If irrigation is begun in a drought, continue to water during the drought period. Apply water infrequently, but in sufficient amounts to wet the soil to six-inch depth.” Turf grasses in clayey, silty soils found in most parts of the metro area may require up to one inch to one-half inches of water per week. These soils typically cannot absorb this much water during one irrigation cycle. Adjust your sprinkler time so you are applying from one-fourth inch to one-half inch of water during each irrigation day or cycle. Those homeowners who have sandy soils, typically found in parts of Johnston, may have to apply more water during each irrigation cycle.
- When possible, avoid laying sod during July and the first three weeks of August. These typically are the hottest months and weeks of the year. New sod has no established root system and therefore requires daily watering during hot summer days to keep it alive. Beginning the last week in August and on through the fall is the best time for laying sod. Grass seed is also best used during this late summer, fall time period.
- Wash clothes and use the dishwasher only when you have full loads.