Walla Walla Water Watcher - 7/5/13

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Facts and tips on water usage and conservation are presented weekly by the City of Walla Walla, in partnership with Walla Walla Community College and the Union-Bulletin.

Precipitation and moisture

Last July: .40 inches

This June so far: 0.00 inches

Soil moisture content: Normal

Chinook salmon return numbers

Fish numbers in the Walla Walla River counted at Nursery Street Bridge in Milton Freewater, as of July 3, 2013, are Spring Chinook 98, Steelhead 547.

Data collected by The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation Department of Natural Resources; funding provided by Bonneville Power Administration.

Water usage

This week’s average water use by all city customers: 18.29 million gallons per day. Last week’s average water use: 14.13 million gallons per day.

Water use guidelines

For the week of June 28-July 3, precipitation was 0.00 inches and turf grass in the area used 1.48 inches of moisture, according to WSU AgWeathernet data. Home irrigators should have run spray type sprinklers 4 times for 15 minutes and rotor type sprinklers 4 times for 56 minutes this week. Calculations are based on average precipitation rates, please adjust for local conditions.

Yard care and water savings tips

Practice natural lawn care.

Mow higher (1-2 inches), mow regularly, and leave the clippings. “Grasscycling” or leaving the clippings on the lawn doesn’t cause thatch build up. But it does make lawns healthier. Soil organisms recycle the clippings into free fertilizer, and you save all the work of bagging. Modern mulching lawn mowers make grasscycling even easier.

Use “natural organic” or “slow release” fertilizers. The best time to fertilize is September, when grass plants are building root reserves for the next year. If you want to fertilize in spring, wait until May, when grass growth slows.

Water deeply to moisten the whole root zone, but less frequently. Let the soil dry between waterings to prevent lawn disease and save water. Lawns only need about one inch of water a week in summer, including rain, to stay green. Or you can let areas of lawn that don’t get heavy wear go brown and dormant — just water once a month and they’ll bounce back in the fall.

How much is one inch of water a week? Scatter tuna cans or other straight-sided containers on your lawn, turn on the sprinkler, and check the time. When most cans have 1 inch of water in them, turn off the sprinkler and check how long it ran. Now you know how long to run your sprinkler each week in summer if you want to keep your lawn green.

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