It’s little wonder that the Irrigation Association chose July for its annual Smart Irrigation Month campaign. After all, just think how much “irrigating” you do in July, August and even into September, to keep your flower beds beautiful, your lawn lush and your vegetable gardens productive. Now think of all of the irrigation the farmers have to do in the heat and dryness of summer, not to mention the water required for livestock. To put it simply, that’s a lot of water. But it doesn’t have to be. This is the foundational message—and mission—of Smart Irrigation Month. Consider a few facts:
- Agricultural and turf-landscape irrigation accounts for 65 to 70 percent of total freshwater use in the U.S. (excluding water used to generate thermoelectric power).
- Upgrades to irrigation systems could save the U.S. enough water annually to serve 130 million people, and irrigate 11 million acres of crop land.
- Today, farmers are using less water to produce 262 percent more food crops than they did in 1950.
- In the U.S., 9 billion gallons of water are used every day for residential outdoor purposes—and as much as 50 percent of that water is wasted through inefficient watering methods and systems.
- In some landscaping applications, one broken sprinkler head can account for 25,000 gallons of water wasted in a six-month season.
What we can learn from just these five points—and, believe me, there are many more eye-opening stats available on the Smart Irrigation Month webpage—is that there are solutions out there for decreasing irrigation water usage without compromising effectiveness. From thousand-acre fields to our own little flower boxes, we can all do more with less water!
This brings me to the theme for Smart Irrigation Month 2019: “Smart Irrigation Through Action.” I like to interpret this as calling on Americans to be a water irrigation inspiration.
There are two tiers to being a Smart Irrigation inspiration. The first is taking the obvious actions of discovering your own irrigation inefficiencies and water waste, then putting better methods and systems to address these problems. Our Water Street archives and the Irrigation Association website are full of resources for doing this.
The second tier of action is specific to the 2019 Smart Irrigation Month campaign, and encourages everyone from farmers and landscapers to irrigation industry professionals and homeowners to “tell us what smart irrigation means to you.” Throughout July, the campaign will ask everyone to share their methods and successes in irrigating more responsibly. The association is even running a “Smart Irrigation in Action” video contest to encourage people to share why and how they contribute to the Smart Irrigation mission. In this way, the campaign sets in motion a network of peer-to-peer inspirations.
Remember, taking action to conserve water during irrigation is one thing. Taking action to inspire others to follow in your footsteps is another. But combining both of these actions is the best way to contribute to the Smart Irrigation mission and make the biggest impact on our water resources. So this July, I encourage everyone to be an irrigation inspiration! I look forward to seeing your videos and social media posts as part of the Smart Irrigation movement.