Run from water waste with good habits

Do your kids turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth? It can save about 4 gallons of water! These habits add up – over the course of a week a family can save enough water to fill a regular trash can. Wouldn’t you rather use that water? Give the kids a hug and encourage their pride in being good stewards of a vital natural resource.

Kids seem to do better than adults at maintaining good habits when they understand the benefits and their actions are rewarded with praise. The rest of us may need a sticky note on the ‘fridge! Consider this your sticky note.

At least once a year, check for dripping water. Even a small leak makes a big impact on  your water bill. Over time you could be paying for hundreds of gallons of water you aren’t using.

Indoors:

  • Look at faucets and taps in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Check under sinks and inside cabinets for wet spots
  • Remember to check faucets in tubs and shower heads
  • Inspect clothes- and dishwasher connections that can develop leaks over time

Outside:

  • Check  spigots and hose ends
  • Ditto for sprinklers attached to a hose
  • For automated systems, check sprinkler heads for leaks, one sign is taller or greener grass, another is places where the ground is perpetually wet
  • Install a rain sensor, if your controller doesn’t have one, to keep sprinklers off when it rains – what a waste that is

Leaks and dripping faucets are easy to ignore but costly.  How about checking right now to be sure it’s not happening right under your nose. Good habits prevent wasted water, so thank you for being a good water steward! Here’s a virtual hug for you.

How can you help conserve water in dry times?

Say yes to more and say yes to less!

Keeping our water clean, healthy, and available is a full-time job for anyone who uses water. Right now is the best time to assess any gaps in your water-saving activities.

Say YES TO MORE

Start by saying YES TO MORE when you only run the dishwasher when it’s full. Same goes for washing your clothes. YES TO MORE cold water washes that conserve energy while being gentler on clothes. Time to upgrade your washing machine? Select one that is smart enough match the amount of water to the load size.

Say YES TO LESS

Fall is a time for less: less fertilizer on the lawn. Our St Augustine grass won’t be able to take up many nutrients, especially nitrogen, once it enters dormancy (mid October – mid April). Adding fertilizer after the first of October won’t help the grass, and it’s more likely those fertilizers will simply run off into waterways during the next rain.

Speaking of rain, does your sprinkler system controller have a rain sensor? The next few months are forecasted to bring strong chances of large rain events. A rain sensor helps you say YES TO LESS irrigation by communicating with your sprinkler system that your lawn has received adequate rainfall and overrides a scheduled watering. Again, your lawn is dormant from mid-October to mid-April and requires not only less fertilizer, but less water too.

Consider yourself a bit of a DIYer? Installing a rain sensor is pretty simple and we’ll help you get started. Send an email to enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov with the subject line: Rain Sensor Request.

The first 10 Township residents to email will receive a free rain sensor.

Just provide your home address so we can verify residency. We’ll be in touch with details on where to pick up your rain sensor and help with any troubleshooting.

Ready to say YES TO MORE AND YES TO LESS? Think about other simple ways your actions can reduce water use. Each YES means we have the water we need in the future.

For questions about water use, visit our Water Conservation webpage.

How much water are you using?

It’s time to evaluate your water use both indoors and outdoors.

Did you know that 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day? Taking 10 minutes to check for leaks can not only save water but prevent future water damage within the home.  

Audit your home for leaks 

  • Turn off everything in your home that uses water. 
  • Read your water meter. 
  • Wait 15 minutes, and then read the meter again. Did the numbers change? If so, you may have a leak. 

If you’re a Woodlands Water customer, the recently installed Smart Water Meters allow you to view your bill, monitor water usage, identify potential leaks, get notifications about excess water use or weather events that might impact your water use.  Get started today with the WaterSmart Customer Portal here. 

Possible leak?  

Look around and check that outdoor faucets aren’t dripping. Look under sinks in all bathrooms and kitchen. If you can’t identify the leak, call a professional for help. 


How many inches? 

Lawn watering accounts for over 50% of water usage by Woodlands residents. If you’re watering more to account for our current drought conditions, you might be doing more harm than good. St. Augustine grass needs only one inch of water per week. Any more than that can lead to disease, pests and weakened lawns. Not to mention wasted water running off the lawn and into the street grows mosquitoes when it enters the storm drains.   

Audit your outdoor water use 

Have questions about reducing water use indoors or outdoors? Contact our water conservation specialist at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Turn your nightmare lawn into a dream 

With less fertilizer, less money, and less work. 

So, your lawn is having a recurring nightmare… you dump on the high-nitrogen fertilizer, thinking more is better. You get an immediate reward of super green grass and pat yourself on the back for your green thumb, BUT then the problems start. Since nitrogen overuse decreases grass’ water-holding capacity, you’ve soon got unhealthy turf and a welcome mat for weeds and disease. Desperate for a remedy, you then crank up the watering. And your nightmare snowballs – our St Augustine lawns suffer when they get more than an inch a week. Now you’re back to the store shelling out more money for more chemicals and paying a higher water bill, too boot.  And the nightmare rolls-on. 

What your lawn dreams of instead is to grow deep roots thereby reducing stress, promoting health and keeping pests and weeds at bay – something it can’t do when over-fertilization and over-watering keeps the top green but the roots shallow. 

So, listen to your lawn: 

  • Apply fertilizer only if you’re sure you need it – have a soil test performed every 2 to 3 years to find out. 
  • Apply fertilizer only when the lawn is actively growing – in the spring after you’ve mowed at least 2 times (and indicator of active growth). 
  • Look for fertilizers with slow-release Nitrogen so your grass can take up a little at a time and the rest won’t be lost through leaching and runoff. Too much nitrogen leads to fertilizer burn, so follow label instructions carefully. In our clay soils, keep to a 1/2 pound per 1000 square feet to prevent Nitrogen leaching. 
  • In our region, avoid fertilizing after mid-October. This allows the grass to fully uptake it before the first freeze occurs. 

Your grass would also like you to know: 

  • St Augustine grass needs 4 to 6 hours of sun every day – if you see thinning growth, it may be getting too little light. 
  • Mow at a height of at least 2 inches, but 4 to 6 inches is better – and only take off a max of 1/3 the height at a time. 
  • Skip the bagging, leave the grass clippings right on the lawn. This provides nutrients your lawn needs. And your back will thank you.
  • Water no more than 1 to 2 times a week for a total of 1 inch per week. This lessens susceptibility to turf grass diseases. 
  • Use cycle and soak methods. Set your timer to water for 10 to 15 minutes, rest for 20, and then water again. Remember, no more than 1 inch a week, total.    
  • Follow the mandated Defined Irrigation Schedule for The Woodlands (2-days per week allowed) and water between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. This reduces water waste from evaporation and supports a healthier lawn. 
  • Turn off irrigation over winter. Our grass naturally goes dormant in the cool months (November through March): leaves turn brown so the roots can concentrate on growing deep and strong. Watering hampers this process, leaving you with a disease and pest-prone lawn in the spring.  

Better yet, turn off your automatic system year-round and operate it manually only when needed. How will you know when to turn it on? It’s easy.

Simply sign up for Weekly Water Recommendation from Woodlands Water Agency. You’ll get an email each week recommending how much to water.  

Stop the nightmares and help your lawn lose the stress and get strong, healthy and lush!  

Resources

Care about water? Become a water specialist!

Get certified this summer! Join the corps of well-informed volunteer specialists who provide education, outreach, and service to keep our local water bodies healthy. This unique certification program, made possible by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department, is offered to both students (grades 9 – 12) and adults.

You can be certified as a Texas Waters Specialist after completing just 8 hours of training based on the Texas Waters curriculum guide. You’ll receive a certificate and an official pin designating you as a certified waters specialist. Then volunteer with The Woodlands Township and other local agencies to educate and work beside your neighbors in protecting local aquatic resources.

The good news: you can attend classes to obtain the needed training hours right here in The Woodlands! The Environmental Services Department has several class dates scheduled through the summer. If you need more information, email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov with the subject line: water specialist inquiry.

Get started today and register as a TPWD volunteer here. For more detailed instructions on how to register, follow along with this document.

To earn your hours through The Woodlands Township, register for an upcoming class here.

Upcoming water lab classes are scheduled for Saturday, July 16 from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday, August 20 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Bear Branch Recreation Center.