Water Restrictions???

julia(z8a)July 5, 2008

After a conversation at a 4th of July party, I've been pondering. None of the dinner guests agreed on what was allowed and what wasn't. So, I thought I'd see if there was a concensus on this forum.

Lawn watering seemed relatively clear. But why do people think there is an on-going exemption for new sod? There is nothing on the web site that suggests this is OK. (I refer to http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/Utilities/Home.htm. And why should there be an exemption for work started more than a year after the restrictions went into effect?

Watering beds at any time is OK if you use a hand held hose or soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Most people I know have commercially installed irrigation systems that run on timers - in their beds as well as their lawns. It doesn't drip; it sprays. And it frequently isn't low impact/low pressure either. I thought the whole point was that spray systems were not water wise. What about the self-installed systems that were a recent source of discussion and compliments on this forum? They are drip systems only in that they contained some drip emitters, but the poster installed sprinklers among the emitters. Are these systems OK at any time? What is preferable about these systems over a low impact portable sprinkler that you move about in the beds? Is a portable sprinkler used in shrub/flower beds allowed or not?

It could be that I am trying too hard to make this rational and the real point is to discourage mindless lawn watering. If so, help me get with the program. Some rules may be better than no rules even if they are silly or unenforceable. But I was pretty shocked that neighbors set the timers for sprinklers in beds to run all night starting at 1:00 am.

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Tammy Kennedy

It seems like those would be good questions for somebody in the utilities department. I'm on a well, so the intricacies of it don't affect me, but it is a fascinating subject, and very valid points. And, you're right- the whole point isn't to find loopholes, but to cut down on wasteful watering.

For myself, i only handwater with a hose at this point, and mostly only pots or very recenty planted things. I've used the black soakers in many years past but found they weren't effective unless you kept stuff fairly moist. My mode is more deperation watering now (to use as little as possible) so they aren't that effective for me. Maybe the type with emitters would work better. I do have rainbarrels but so far have found them to be incovenient (front yard's where the bulk of my garden is, is uphill from them). I'm hoping to use them more for the backyard that is downhill from them. We never ever water our grass- it is the least important componant of our garden. In fact it isn't just grass- whatever's green and can be walked on will work for me. I don't care for monocultures.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 10:30AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Ahh, rain, glorious rain! We've received a bit over an inch in the past two days and I am glad that I ran the sprinkler system in advance to moisten the soil so the rain would have a better chance to soak in.
Wish I had some way of adding a surfectant to the sprinkler system water.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 2:28PM
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Dottie - have you tried sitting in the back yard and blowing bubbles with soapy water?? the soap should act as a surfectant when it hits the ground and you could really impress the neighbors... just a thought

As I understand it, they want you standing outside with a hose in your hand IF you are going to use city water to water your lawn or garden. No automated anything and no hose end sprinklers except on the two days per week that correlate to your even or odd address. I think their thinking is that anything automated uses more water. The next stage is to limit ALL watering to those two days and the stage after that is an outright ban. But they tend to rewrite the rules as we go along and the media tend to interpret them differently so I really doubt anyone will really get in trouble if they are confused (unless they catch you a second time doing the same thing they told you not to do the first time). I live in Garner and we got a written message detailing what the water restrictions mean and what could and could not be done in the mail. But this was months ago and restrictions have been lifted somewhat in the mean time. I did hear the guy at the top of this department on the radio say that vegetable garden are immune from prosecution if they are caught HAND watering (no sprinklers) during the strictest phase, but I have not seen that written or mentioned anywhere since.

We only got a half inch (barely) from all the storms this weekend.

Tammy - they keep bringing up that they want to impose restrictions on private wells also. So far the law won't support it but things may change if the drought gets worse or the city ever completely runs out of water.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 4:29PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

I'm on a community well system -- we got something in the mail last month asking us to follow recommendations on watering that I think are these listed on the NC Utilities Commission website. (At least I think it was phrased as 'guidelines' or 'recommendations' and not law.) I can pretty much live with them, as I've never much used spray irrigation and they're less restrictive on hand watering than some of the rules the cities came up with last year. We've had good rain at my house this past week, about 3 1/2 inches total including over an inch from this last set of storms. We may still be in a significant drought statewide, but my own garden is a different beast this year.

Here is a link that might be useful: NC Utilities Commission Water Usage Restrictions

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 5:33PM
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I have to say that the NC Utilities Commission link is a model of clarity compared to the Mecklenburg county web site. One of my favorites is the decision to impose no restrictions on pressure washing houses, decks, patios, or driveways. Now there is something people could easily postpone or live without.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mecklenburg County Water Restrictions

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 6:53PM
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Tammy Kennedy

TJ- yeah, i've heard talk now & again of imposing statewide restrictions on well owners as well. I generally follow whatever restrictions are going on at the time, just so i don't get nastygrams or stares, but since i mostly water by hand held hose i don't sweat the details too much. By the time they restricted that severely last year i wasn't watering all that much anyhow. The threat of running my well dry is much larger to me than any fines could be. Since it's only 100', it is a real possibility. Thank goodness we're so close to lake benson- i think that's helped keep the water table high enough for us. Plus, there aren't that many well owners right around here since we're surrounded by city- about 30 or so in the donut hole.

I recall hearing the same statement last year about the veggie gardens on the radio. Never saw anything in writing.

Mecklenberg isn't alone in allowing car washing and powerwashing while restricting plant watering- Wake's the same. I personally think it's asinine. I'm no fan of lawn watering, but shrubs and plantings help to purify our air and will die without a minimum amount. Nothing bad will happen to a car or house that sits unwashed for a bit longer. I just wonder where folk's priorities are. Now when it's bad enough that it's plants or drinking water- no question- the plants die. But if we managed it better to begin with i don't think it needs to get so drastic.

Thnak goodness we are finally getting some good rain this eve. We didn't get much out of the earlier rains this weekend, but i'm sure we'll have at least an inch before this system's through if not more. We did get a little earlier- just enough to open the soil back up, for which i'm really grateful.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 8:55PM
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jqpublic(7b/8a Wake County NC)

In the triangle I know there would be instances where they would give out permits for those with new sod to water...eventually they made people pay for these permits. I don't know what they have now, but the Raleigh area is on an Odd/Even watering schedule. I was always confused on whether hand watering did or did not mean holding a hose in your hand...or did it mean a watering can.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 2:27AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

What irks the heck out of me is seeing the water tankers sucking fresh clean water out of hydrants.
Why can't they be forced to use a different source..like the effluent from sewage treatment plants? If it's clean enough to dump into our streams it should be even more beneficial for watering new sod than chlorinated water from hydrants.
At least in Union and Meck they did say hand watering could be from a garden hose. Guess they figure there is some limit to our patience with mosquitoes as we stand there trying to water our plants.

They say we got about 2 inches over the weekend (said Pineville got 6" but it's bisected with two big highways and two big streams and the warmth and moisture tend to stall slow moving storms). I think we got about 1 1/2" and I noticed that I never did get the normal puddling in the low part of the back lawn.
Hoping my pre-wetting helped the rain soak in.

Yeah...re: standing out there getting chewed up whilst I blow soap bubbles.
Is there a surfectant that doesn't get sudsy? Something I could spray on the lawns? Maybe I'll google for info. These widely intermittant rains falling on dry soils just run off and what little soaks in encourages shallow root growth.
I water, using the system, once a week..deeply so each zone is on for 20-35 min. instead of the 6-8 min. the system was originally set for when watering three times a week.
The shorter more frequent waterings work better when you are trying to set fertilizers or keep overseed from floating away.
Eh..just musing now. Back to when we had regular rains..

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:48AM
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Back when I worked for a commercial greenhouse they bought surfectants that they treated the growing media with to improve water absorbtion. I don't know what it was called and I never saw it myself, but the product does exist.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 12:58PM
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Apparently we are at d4 status on this end. We are still under voluntary restrictions.

In the suggested drought management rules it defines hand watering as either hose in hand or watering with a container. It also allows for drip irrigation between the hours of 8am and 8pm. That goes for public and private water sources.

Here is a link that might be useful: NC Drought Management Advisory Council

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 2:00PM
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Wilt-pruf and Vaporguard are antitranspirents frequently used on Christmas greenery. I tried to buy them to use during the drought several years ago in MD. Unfortunately, the three nurseries I tried don't stock the stuff in Summer. They agreed it would probably work during a drought, especially for broadleaf evergreens, but they had "no call" for the products except during the holidays. Yes, I know, I know. If they had the stuff around and promoted it,it might sell like hotcakes!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 3:59PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

julia, I don't know that I've ever heard of using antitranspirants during the growing season. Interesting thought.
The objective of the surfectant application is to break the natural surface tension of water so it can penetrate. I can see how greenhouses would use that so they could water with less run thru especially when using soiless mediums.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 2:46PM
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We use a small amount of dish-washing liquid in our home-made sprays to allow the contents to "stick" to the leaves and I have heard that it increases the ability of the soil to hold water. I have never tried watering my plants with it though so I am curious as to how well it would actually work. We use soaps like ivory though without additives like bleach and such.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 2:54PM
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The light bulb went off. You are looking for what I call a sticker/spreader. I realize the sticker part isn't needed for your purpose but it seems to come as a combination in commercial products.

I have ordered it from Home Harvest Garden Supply in the past during my grape growing phase. Never found this stuff at a retail nursery. You might try a large seed and feed store.

I'm still not sure an anti-transpirant won't help. It is used for new plantings in dry situations (high winds, low mhumidity).

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 4:48PM
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We use a small amount of dish-washing liquid in our home-made sprays to allow the contents to "stick" to the leaves and I have heard that it increases the ability of the soil to hold water. I have never tried watering my plants with it though so I am curious as to how well it would actually work. We use soaps like ivory though without additives like bleach and such.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 5:21PM
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I hit the back button and apparently it sent my post from earlier again....

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 5:22PM
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