Water Conservation

Water Conservation  image with hand catching waterWater is one of the most important resources we have in the State of Utah, and also one of the most limited. Utah is the second driest State in the Country yet it has one of the highest water usages per capita. As a City we are making conservation efforts to be implemented in our water distribution system. We have created a Water Conservation Plan (PDF) to help in this effort. We encourage our City and community in aiding our efforts to protect our water resource now and for future generations.

What The City Is Doing To Conserve While Maintaining Our Open Spaces

Utah is in an extreme drought and irrigation water sources are running low across the state.  It is important to conserve both irrigation and culinary water.  Below is a list of what the Parks department is doing to conserve irrigation water this year and what measures are being implemented to continue to conserve in the future. We have also included tips to help residents conserve both irrigation and culinary water along with links to other water saving resources. 

What the Parks Department is doing to conserve water in 2022

Park Strip on Foothill Blvd with stressed turfWe are maintaining turf in recreation field spaces and other high use areas while allowing grasses in non high uses areas, not used for recreation programming, to stress and possibly go dormant.

  • Through the month of July we will gradually reduce water usage in non high use areas until it has been reduced by 40%. 
    • We will maintain this reduction through the rest of the irrigation season
  • Park strips without trees will be reduced to watering once every fourteen days.
  • Parks strips with trees will be watered once every seven days.
  • We will maintain a three day watering schedule for all other non high use areas, with a reduction in runtime to maintain the 40% reduction.
  • We have reduced the watering of all open space where possible.  We aim to significantly reduce water usage while avoiding significant damage to the grass. 
  • With the cut back of irrigation we anticipate there may be an increase of invasive weeds in turf. Thus, we are increasing the broadleaf weed control program to minimize weeds 
  • We will be focusing heavily on irrigation tune ups at all parks and open spaces to get all irrigation systems running as efficiently as possible.  We aim to make timely repairs to broken lines, leaking valves, and damaged heads. As we know that malfunctions in irrigation systems lead to unnecessary water loss. 
  • In July we will switch from a nitrogen fertilizer to a BTG Fertilizer which is an organic fertilizer, soul conditioner and water retention product. 
  • We continue to research and follow best practices in maintaining sprinkler systems, watering, fertilizing and other turf maintenance.  
  • Due to the large amount of turf and systems that we maintain, sometimes residents can see issues before we do. If you see an issue please email us a detailed description along with photos if possible to comments@saratogaspringscity.com.

Smart Irrigation Systems

Over the past 5 years the city has been converting sprinkler systems in city facilities to a smart irrigation system that waters according to the watering needs of the plants. This system is accurate in its evapotranspiration, which is the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants. Due to this, the system will make adjustments to the needs of the plants in its system. Because of the large amount of turf these systems cover and the amount of use these facilities receive they respond to rain delays and other water saving measures differently than a system a resident would use in their home. See the information below for details on how this system works and how it is saving water in city facilities.

  • There is a 24 hour delay in the updates of the system. This means the system will continue to run in a rain storm and will automatically make adjustments to future watering cycles if watering needs were met.
    • Example 1: If we received an estimate of .76 inches of rainfall in a 24 hour period due to rain. In the same 24 hours the evapotranspiration was .23 inches. The rainfall that occurred would have filled the previous day’s watering need giving an excess of .52 inches. If the Parks Department allowed the system to run on auto, it would water in a normal range that night, then due to the excess of water, it would delay the next watering in the schedule.  
      • If the day of the rainstorm had an evapotranspiration of .60 there would be an excess of .16 inches of rainfall. This may only delay the clocks for a single day (after watering and the rainstorm) as the next day could have an evapotranspiration that overtook the total rainfall and watering. After this delay and adjustment in the irrigation from the system, the maximum allowable depletion may have been met and regular programmed watering will continue as needed. If it has still had an excess amount of water, the clock may delay more days of watering until we are under our maximum allowable depletion limit.
    • Example 2: If there was evapotranspiration of .60 you would still have an excess of .16 inches of rainfall. After the watering and adjustment from the clock, the system may still need an additional .06 inches and water to our maximum allowable depletion to reach the threshold designed in our systems. This may seem like wasted watering but according to the needs of the plants in the irrigation system, weather, and other items like root depth this watering is still required to keep the roots saturated to the maximum allowable depletion limit to provide a healthy root system ready to sustain the damage from use our parks see regularly.
    • The smart watering system update’s the watering information at 12 AM with the weather of the previous day. This information doesn’t take effect until the next watering cycle (most parks would be about 22 hours from the update). In the case of our example, watering would be continued as normal for the next available watering time (until 10 AM). The next time it watered it would take the information of the previous day, including any watering that happened during the night, and the daily evapotranspiration and weather information, then adjust and reduce the amount of water for the next watering cycle.
  • This system allows the Parks Department to make adjustments with a central cloud based system for all of the facilities that have been switched to this smart watering system. The system can be monitored and adjusted remotely. Due to the large amount of turf maintained by the parks department and the need to keep the watering schedule to ensure the turf is ready to be used by residents, recreation programming, and events, the Parks department will normally not make remote adjustments due to rain until they are able to verify the estimated rainfall that was received.
    • Example: Using our previous examples, after ensuring the amount of rainfall from the previous day’s storms, the Parks Department may set a 2 day delay on all Smart watering systems in the city and continue to make additional adjustments or delays if more rainfall occurred.

Water Wise Landscaping

As a city we strive for water wise landscapes, native and drought tolerant plants, rock mulch, and xeriscaping. When it comes to watering, we aim to water to the plant’s needs. This is done by adequately keeping the root zone from reaching full depletion. There are many factors such as Evapotranspiration, soil types, root depth, Irrigation system efficiency, and slope. In a case of a small rain storm that may not fully saturate the root zone of the plant, we may have to continue to irrigate to meet the plants needs in the soil. Below is an example of watering to the plant’s needs (max allowed depletion)

Parks Department Landscaping Policy

A diagram showing water evaporation

  • The Saratoga Springs Parks Department maintains over 140 acres of turf. Much of this turf receives damage seasonally by recreation programming and citizen use. The parks department takes a proactive and responsible approach when maintaining our parks.  
  • We water between 6 PM and 10 AM. We perform sprinkler maintenance during normal business hours.
    • Residents may see sprinkler systems running during the day at various sites if staff is working on a system in that facility.
    • Residents may see sprinklers running during the day at Neptune Park in the weeks following the Splash Days Celebration as the Parks Department works to repair the damage sustained during the festival. 
  • We maintain over 19,000 sprinkler heads through the various sprinkler systems used to water the turf. 
    • We monitor our sprinkling systems to minimize over spray and fix issues as quickly as possible. 
    • Due to the large amount of turf and systems that we maintain, sometimes residents can see issues before we do. If you see an issue please email us with the exact location, and a detailed description along with photos if possible to comments@saratogaspringscity.com.
  • We use a 3 day watering schedule. This means that city maintained turf gets watered every 3 days unless it is newly laid sod or the grass at a specific facility has undergone more than normal damage such as Neptune Park after the Splash Days event.  
  • We use interval watering: Larger Parks may have three irrigation programs that water separately every three days, one program will water each night.   It may appear that a park is watering every night, however, it will be a different section of the park that is watering every three days.
  • If you see an issue with a sprinkler system please send the location of the issue, a description of the issue and a picture if possible.  You can contact us at comments@saratogaspringscity.com,  Facebook or Instagram Direct Messenger, the contact us option below or by submitting a ticket through the Saratoga Springs App (available on Android & IOS)

What You Can Do To Conserve 

Know your water use

Weekly Lawn Watering Guide

The DNR has a weekly Lawn Watering Guide to help residents know how often and how long to water each week based on the types of sprinklers in their irrigation system . To access the guide go to DNR Weekly Lawn Watering Guide Website.

Outdoor

  • Tune up your sprinklers, make readjustments to alignment on heads and repair broken heads. Make sure that you are not watering your sidewalk or the roadway.
  • Water your lawn and property only during the evening and at night. Avoid watering from 10 AM - 6 PM.
  • Plant drought tolerant and regionally adapted plants in areas that are hard to water or that receive little use. This may include narrow strips near sidewalks or driveways and steep hills.
  • Sweep your driveways and sidewalks with a broom instead of spraying them off with a hose. Don't sweep waste into the gutter where it can enter a storm drain. Help to keep the storm drain system clean to allow the water to properly flow through the system.
  • Change your lawn mower to a 3-inch clipping height and try not to cut off more than one-third of the grass height when you mow.
  • Avoid bursting or freezing pipes by winterizing your outdoor spigots.

Indoor

  • Turn off your water when you brush your teeth.
  • Limit your shower time to 5 minutes or less.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge, that way you won’t have to leave the tap running to get a cool drink of water.
  • Make sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full before running them.
  • Install low-flow toilets and shower heads. New toilet models use only 1.6 gallons per flush saving up to 3 gallons per flush. Shower heads with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less can save 40% to 50% more water than conventional shower heads.
  • Pay attention to your water bill and become familiar with your water meter. Use them to track your water use and detect leaks.
  • Purchase appliances that offer water and energy efficient cycle options.
  • Fix leaky plumbing fixtures and appliances throughout your home.
  • Locate your master water shut-off valve so that water can be saved if a pipe bursts.