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With the drought we have been experiencing this summer, there is an increased focus on water use. Both lawns and flowers need watering more often just to keep from getting scorched.
The lack of rain has prompted many communities to put new restrictions on when homeowners can water their lawns.
While some communities are encouraging residents to voluntarily restrict their outdoor watering between certain hours, such as 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., or only on odd or even days depending on street address, others are making these restrictions mandatory.
The reason for implementing restrictions is not about a lack of water, but rather the need to use it wisely. There should be enough water pressure during peak periods of the day when people are using water inside the home.
In addition, communities that use less water during peak hours can achieve a better water rate from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
The biggest offender of outdoor water use is obviously sprinkler systems.
Running sprinklers for two hours uses approximately 500 gallons of water and is part of the reason that in many areas of the country, outdoor water use can equal 50 percent or more of total usage.
Sprinkler systems, more common in newer communities like Macomb Township, contribute even more to the need for water restrictions.
"As a community, we are really just a teenager, and since most of the homes in Macomb Township are newer, more than 85 percent of them have a sprinkler system," said Gerry Wangelin, superintendent of the water department in Macomb Township, www.macomb-mi.gov.
Wangelin said Macomb Township has promoted the water restrictions to residents, including lots of information on the township website.
But there are still some people who don't know about it or just don't comply. And while the ordinance could lead to a misdemeanor charge for the homeowner who refuses to comply, that is rare, Wangelin said.
"We give homeowners a warning with a door hanger first if they aren't in compliance, and then step two would be a visit to educate them about the restrictions and why it is in place," Wangelin said.
"Once people understand the reasons we have the restrictions, they usually comply."
Macomb Township has a mandatory odd/even lawn watering restriction, effective May 15 through Oct. 15.
Automatic lawn irrigation is also prohibited between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Wangelin said that in addition to following the restrictions to help keep the community's water pressure consistent and get a better water rate, there are plenty of people who end up paying more for their water bill because they don't use water wisely.
"People waste a lot of water when using sprinklers because they don't adjust their sprinkler heads and they end up watering the street instead of their lawn," Wangelin said.
He also said that other leaks in the house, such as a poorly maintained water-assisted back-up sump pump or a leaky toilet, can really add to the cost of the water bill.
To help Macomb Township homeowners avoid this, the township uses water meters that feature a small red dial that will move to indicate water movement through meter. This is a helpful tool when checking your system for leaks and will detect things like a leaky toilet or dripping faucet, two big culprits in higher water bills.
Another substantial but often overlooked outdoor water use is filling or re-filling a swimming pool due to a leak or maintenance.
On a smaller scale, so is hosting all the neighborhood kids to a water slide or a run through the sprinklers that takes all day.
While we are blessed with an abundant supply of water here in Michigan, such excessive uses can waste hundreds of gallons. They could also contribute to lower water pressure in your community and cost you cold hard cash on your next bill.
So check with your local city or township to find out if there are any watering restrictions you need to adhere to. Then keep a copy of your water bill in your pocket to show to the neighbors when you brag about your results.
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