Faulty Irrigation Systems May Lead to High Water Bills
As warmer weather settles in Texas, high temperatures won’t be the only thing homeowners could experience. In 2016, more than 25.5 million gallons of water were used daily during the summer in Carrollton, a nearly 31 percent increase in daily consumption compared to the rest of the year. The average Carrollton household consumes 316 gallons daily, which is on par with the national norm, yet the warmer months will see an increase in usage.
While summer brings vacations and outdoor fun, it also brings the need to water lawns and gardens, much of which is done through sprinkler systems. The use of irrigation systems, though time-saving, might not always be cost-saving. Old and faulty systems are potential water bandits, slyly robbing homeowners hundreds of dollars over the course of the year and leading to high water bills, overwatered lawns, and wasted resources.
High water bills during the summer months are not just a local occurrence. Cities all around Texas and the United States receive calls from concerned customers on an annual basis. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than 9 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation. Experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of this water is wasted due to overwatering, triggered by inefficiencies in irrigation methods and/or systems which can lead to higher than normal water bills. Inefficiencies in a money-leaking irrigation system can include faulty setups, broken sprinkler heads, and worn-out equipment.
“When utility customers call about high water bills, they normally think that the City is charging more during these warmer months or that their meters might be malfunctioning or have been tampered with,” said Carrollton Chief Financial Officer Bob Scott. “Water rates do not change randomly throughout the year, and the City double-checks meter reads for accuracy.”
Customers can combat these unseen “water robbers” through the City’s Save Water by the Yard program which provides free irrigation inspections. Eligible Carrollton Water Utilities residential customers with in-ground irrigation systems can apply to receive the inspections through September 30 or until the funds are exhausted.
Save Water by the Yard inspection service includes a consultation by a licensed irrigation expert who will check the settings on the sprinkler system’s control box, check all system lines for leaks and improperly functioning sprinkler heads, and provide customers with tips on system maintenance and water conservation. Residential customers who previously participated in 2015 or 2016 are ineligible for an inspection in 2017. For more information or to make an appointment for an inspection, Carrollton residents should call 972-466-3000.
Smart watering practices can also lead to additional savings, a healthier lawn, and foiling the “water robbers”. The clay-rich soil in North Texas, which has a very slow water absorption rate, is best irrigated through the Cycle Soak Method. Running an irrigation zone for 15-20 minutes at a time is too much water for the local clay soil to absorb, causing the water to run off the yard and down the street. Instead of running the irrigation zone for 15-20 minutes straight, the Cycle Soak Method suggests breaking the watering cycle into three cycles of five to seven minutes with about 30-60 minutes in between. This gives the clay soil enough time to deeply absorb the water and will readily absorb more during the next short cycle. Through this method, the plant’s root system will reach for this deep moisture and be well protected from the summer heat, conserving water and money in the process. For more information on watering methods, visit cityofcarrollton.com/water.
The City of Carrollton understands each household uses water differently. Customers are advised to call Utility Customer Service (UCS) at 972-466-3120 with any questions. UCS will take a closer look at the accounts in question and work directly with the customers to identify any issues.
UCS is also pleased to announce the launch of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to address the most common inquiries that customers might have. The new FAQ page can be found by visiting cityofcarrollton.com/waterbillFAQ.