Unlike the past couple of years, the York region has experienced above average rainfall this summer, especially in June, when there were more rainy days than sunny ones. That trend continued throughout the summer, leaving many residents and tourists alike longing for more sun and less rain as we move past the season when outdoor water use normally peaks.
Many local gardeners have complained about too much rain and its impact on the productivity of their favorite seasonal produce. At the same time, demand from lawn irrigation systems, especially those with the WaterSense label, is lower than past summers, leaving the height of Chase’s Pond at higher levels this summer than most years over the past three decades.
Still, neither a season of plentiful rainfall nor the end of summer is a valid excuse not to practice good water conservation habits. Living a water-wise lifestyle should be a year-round endeavor. The degree of effort to conserve water should never be based on the height of the local reservoir, as we should always strive as individuals and members of a community to save this precious natural resource. Good year-round water conservation habits will not only save you money, but they will also help conserve this valuable commodity for the next time drought conditions return to our region.
Here are some fall conservation tips as we turn the corner on summer and begin to prepare for the cold months ahead:
1. Once summer is over and the temperatures drop, it is time to put the sprinklers away. Your lawn should need little watering or none at all.
2. Remove your garden hoses from your outside hose connections, drain and store your hoses inside.
3. If your outside hose connection has a valve inside your home turn it off for the winter.
4. Water less often. Plants require less water in the fall. Overwatering them can lead to disease. Fungus can also develop on plants and in grass that remain wet overnight.
5. If planting new flowers for the fall or winter, continue to mulch.
6. Select fall flowers that don’t require a lot of water. Mums, for example, only need to be watered about three times a week. Also, consider leaving new fall flowers in their pots so you can water more efficiently.
7. In many parts of the country, fall typically brings more rain than summer. Keep an eye on the forecast and avoid watering if rain is on the way.
8. Cut down your shower time by three or four minutes. People typically get dirtier and sweatier during summer activities in the heat.
9. When harvesting fresh vegetables and fruit, put them in basins of water - not under a continuous stream of water.
10. When dropping down the water level or draining your pool to prepare for winter, reuse that water for washing your car.
11. Get a head start on winter preparations. Once the weather gets colder, it’s harder for people to “motivate” themselves to face the cold and check indoors and outdoors for leaky pipes and faucets. Colder weather can also make repairs more difficult.
12. Check out the sale fliers! From Labor Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, many fall holidays come with excellent sales on appliances. A perfect time to convert to water- and energy-efficient fixtures. Look for the WaterSense stamp.
Written by Charlie Black and Karen Hale