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Karen Siddall
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Water Saving Tips for the Holidays

Over the holidays, with more time at home and more visitors in the house, our water bill can really take a hit. More cooking, more showering, (more flushing!) all require more water than what we normally use. Since the water bill in winter tends to be lower than other times of the year, because few of us are watering our lawns then, the increase in consumption around the holidays can be masked.

However, here are a couple of things that can be done around the holidays to save water and keep some of the jingle in our pocket rather than sending it out the door with a water bill.

Getting in the holiday spirit -

1)      Switch to a reusable artificial tree this year – no watering!

2)      We’re more likely to notice water leaks indoors, so while putting up the outdoor lights, don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers, and hoses. And if really cold weather is anticipated, cover up and insulate that outdoor faucet.

3)      While you’re out there, find out where your master water shut off valve is located and how to turn it off in case of a leak. This could save water and prevent damage to your home.

4)      As that final touch for upping your Christmas curb appeal, use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.

5)      Then before you put the big, red bow or antlers and red nose on the car, use a commercial car wash that recycles water.

Holiday feasting -

1)      Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.

2)      Wash fruit and vegetables in a pan of water rather than running water from the tap.

3)      Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons of water every time you would have used it.

4)      Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.

5)      Keep in mind that a dishwasher uses less water to clean a full load of dishes than doing them by hand. Energy Star™ dishwashers use between 4 and 6 gallons of water per load depending on the cycle selected. If washing dishes by hand is necessary, fill the sink and rinse the dishes when they have all been scraped and scrubbed.

Family at home –

1)      Turn off the water while you brush your teeth and save around two gallons per minute. If you brush for the full two minutes that the dentist recommends, that’s a water savings of almost four gallons every time you brush. (That’s enough for a dishwasher session.)

2)      Adhere to using one glass for water per person per day. Each person reusing their glass cuts down on the number to wash.

3)      For cold drinks, keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.

4)      When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up. However, a short shower uses less water than a full bath.

5)      When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.

Small adjustments such as these will bring reductions in your daily water consumption. But more importantly, their daily practice can lead to them becoming long-term habits. Over time, these habits can add up to some significant savings on your water bill letting you keep those savings jingling in your pocket rather than flowing down the drain.

For more information about water conservation, visit the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at www.prairielandsgcd.org

Karen Siddall
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Happy Thanksgiving!
The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, November 22 - 24, to allow staff to observe the Thanksgiving holiday with their families. The District will resume business on Monday, December 27.
 
The Board of Directors and staff would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!
Karen Siddall
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Thankful for the gathering of family and friends

So you’re going to have the family over for a holiday meal or snacks and drinks. Besides the all-important menu, preparation will include deciding on dinnerware and utensils for the event – paper or reusable, extra garbage or washing up after.

Paper and plastic may be the answer for saving time better spent with family. However, cleaning up dishes afterwards and sharing leftovers with family members may be part of your holiday memories and routine. And using reusable plates and utensils will save you both money and water in the long run.

Handwashing vs. Dishwasher

Studies have shown that dishwashers, especially those with the Energy Star™ rating, use less water to clean a full load of dishes than doing them by hand. Energy Star™ dishwashers use between four and six gallons of water per load depending on the cycle selected. Four gallons of water in a standard-sized sink doesn’t get you very far when handwashing a lot of dirty dishes, pots, and pans. And as for rinsing, every minute of water you run from the tap, two gallons are going down the drain.

Water Conservation Tip: If washing dishes by hand is necessary, wash them inside the largest pot you’ve used to cook your meal (like your turkey roaster). Rinse everything at once by starting with the largest pot. Put clean water in it to rinse the rest of the dishes.

For more information about water conservation, see the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at www.prairielandsgcd.org

Karen Siddall
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USAF Honor Guard at DFW National Cemetery

The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Friday, November 10, in observance of Veterans Day.

The District will resume business on Monday, November 13.

Karen Siddall
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US Air Force Honor Guard at DFW National Cemetery

The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District office will be closed Friday, November 10, in observance of Veterans Day.

The District will resume business on Monday, November 13.

Karen Siddall
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With Halloween just around the corner, now might be the time to check for the vampire living at your house.

You didn’t know there was a vampire at your house? Well, he’s not all sparkly, and he really doesn’t play by the vampire rules either. This guy is the one that preys on your plumbing and slowly, but surely, sucks your hard-earned money out of your wallet each and every month when you pay your water bill.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the average household's water leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. That kind of water loss can really add up on your water bill.

Some of these leaks are easy to detect; you can see or hear them. There’s that leaky faucet in the kitchen or the showerhead that won’t quite turn completely off or, even more often, the toilet that continues to run sometimes after you flush if you don’t remember to jiggle the handle just right. Thankfully, these types of problems are easy to correct, and many you can do yourself. No need to call in expert assistance! There’s even YouTube videos for this.

Unfortunately, there are hidden or ghostly leaks as well. You don’t see or hear them but they’re there... lurking…waiting…

Some of these are easy to fix yourself. However, a couple may require you to call in ghoul-friends.

Toilet tank – You can usually see or hear leaks that cause water to move in the bowl or tank but there is a silent leak that is common to toilets caused by a deteriorating or improperly sealing flapper. The flapper keeps the water in the upper tank from seeping into the bowl below.  You can check condition of the seal made by the flapper by coloring the water in the tank with a small amount of food coloring or Kool-Aid.  Do not use the toilet for 10 minutes. Then check the color of the water in the bowl, if it is now the same color as the water in the tank the flapper needs to be replaced. (It is possible that the flapper and valve just need to be wiped free of any buildup to properly seal again.) Be sure to flush the dyed water away after this to keep from staining the tank or bowl.

Hot water heater – Your water heater can also be a hidden source of leaks, if it is installed out of the line of sight. Most commonly leaks can appear at the drain valve (the spigot used to drain the water from the bottom of the tank), the temperature and pressure relief valve, and even from the bottom of the tank itself as it gets old. Unfortunately, water heater leaks can affect your wallet 3 different ways: not only in on your water bill and for repairs and replacement, but if the leak was on the hot water line, your energy bill can take a hit as well. Minor fixes you may want to tackle on your own, others may require a professional.

Outdoor faucet or hose bib – Leaks associated with your outdoor faucet, although visible, just may not be where you conduct your normal, everyday activities allowing them to go undetected for quite a while. Make sure the water is turned off at the hose bib especially if a hose is still attached, and not just at a nozzle on the hose. Disconnect, empty, and store garden hoses for the off-season. Be sure to wrap outdoor faucets as the temperatures dip!

Sprinkler system – Sprinkler heads and their supply grid are all subject to leaks. It’s long been a common practice to inspect, repair, and perform maintenance on the landscape sprinkler system in the early spring before putting it back in service. But checking its integrity before putting it in “off-season” mode makes sense as well. If you’re not out enjoying your yard during the winter, you’re less likely to observe standing water from a leaking system. Check the settings on the controller to make certain it is only running when and where you need it. Turn each sprinkler zone on and check for low pressure or water bubbling from the ground or irrigation components. This means your system has sprung a leak somewhere. Don’t forget to check your backflow and solenoid valves for drips.

If you still feel like you’re in the dark about what may be sucking you dry, you may want to try checking the house as whole for water loss. Investigate this by, first, reading your water meter. Wait 15 minutes without using any water in the house and then go back and read your meter. (You may need to stop appliances that use water automatically like a standalone ice maker or an ice maker in your refrigerator/freezer from cycling.) If you show water usage after only this length of time, you’ve got a pretty good leak going somewhere. Extend your waiting period to 2 hours and even slower leaks will become apparent. If you’ve checked all your water-using appliances and fixtures already, the leaks you’re probably facing at this point may be in the water supply lines between the meter and the house or under your foundation, and time to call in a plumbing professional.

For more information on these tips and others, visit the Prairielands GCD website at www.prairielandsgcd.org or call (817) 556-2299. The Prairielands GCD office is located in the Liberty Hotel, 205 S. Caddo St., Cleburne, TX, 76031. In addition, most water service providers can also provide more detailed information on leak detection in your home as well as water conservation.

Karen Siddall
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School is back is session and while our little darlings are mentally geared up for getting back into the school morning routine, why not have them develop a new habit to conserve water and save some of your hard-earned money on the water bill?

If they are not already doing so, get the kids to turn off the water while they are brushing their teeth. If they’re brushing as long as the dentist recommends, this could save more than four gallons of water every brushing session.

Here’s how –

The faucet in the bathroom typically puts out a little over two gallons for every minute it runs. The dentist wants us to brush our teeth for two minutes. If you let the water run for the two minutes you’re actually brushing, it’s going straight down the drain unused and unneeded. Two gallons of water flowing for two minutes adds up to a total of four gallons (plus a little more) wasted!

Getting your toothbrush wet and then rinsing and cleaning up after brushing takes around 30 seconds of water flow or only one gallon of water. So, by turning off the tap between wetting the brush and cleaning up, you’ll save that unneeded four gallons of water.

If that still seems like a lot water to you to just brush your teeth, use a cup in the bathroom. Fill the cup and use water from that to wet the brush, rinse, and clean up instead. You just went from one gallon down to one cup of water use!

For more water-saving tips, visit the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at www.prairielandsgcd.org (click on “BROCHURES”) or follow us on Facebook!

Karen Siddall
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After 2 years of heavy spring rains, and pretty regular storm clouds in the sky lately, water conservation may not be much of a topic of conversation these days. However, conditions of plenty can change very quickly in our area: just look back at May. Although May is historically our wettest month of the year with an average rainfall of 4.84 inches, May of 2017 was almost record dry across our area with only 1.65 inches recorded in Waxahachie.  (Of course, then came June with a surprising 5.23 inches recorded.)

May usually ushers in our driest, hottest months in North Central Texas. Our biggest water output during this time is for outdoor watering. To avoid the “sticker shock” of a high water bill and still keep your yard at its healthiest, it is important to know how to tell when your landscape needs supplemental watering.

When do you need to water?

For two of our area’s most popular warm-season grasses, Bermuda and St. Augustine, one way to determine if it is time to water is by inspection of the blades of grass themselves. If your Bermuda grass lawn presents wilting leaves and a blue-gray color throughout, that is a good indication of drought stress; your yard could use supplemental watering. If your St. Augustine grass has a dull, bluish color, rolled or folded leaves, and footprints tend to retain their shape after you’ve walked across your lawn, it is showing signs of drought stress as well. Time for you to water.

How much/how long do you need to water?

Of course, each yard will be different. However, the following principles will apply to all turf grasses. Deep infrequent watering creates deep roots. Shallow frequent watering creates short roots. As water evaporates from the soil surface, short-rooted plants and lawns will need water more often. Deep-rooted plants and lawns will be able to absorb water from the deeper soil, over a longer period of time. This approach also reduces disease, helps insure good air movement down to the root system, and conserves water. Water lawns slowly, allowing water to reach a depth of 6 inches.

As for how long this will take, again, each yard will be different. Try watching and measuring how long it takes for your sprinkler to fill a standard sized tuna can (or cat food can) with one inch of water as it sweeps across the yard. If water starts running off your lawn before hitting the one-inch mark, pause the process to allow the water to soak into the underlying soil, before continuing. Note the amount of time before you paused and the amount of time you needed to wait before continuing. You may need to pause more than once. But once you’ve successfully capture one inch of water in your catch can, you can determine your watering pattern for your individual yard. Just reproduce what you did to get one inch of water on your lawn, then stop.

What time do you need to water?

Since 50-60% of your irrigation can be lost to evaporation, it is best to water when that is less likely to happen. Whenever possible, water between midnight and 8:00 a.m. 

What about automatic sprinkler systems?

You need to understand how to operate, set, and re-program your automatic sprinkler system. Determine how much water your system discharges (as described previously) and set the timing of the various zones in your configuration to water what is needed for your type of grass, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees. As your landscape matures, the height of some of your plantings may even necessitate changes in your head placements as the spray patterns become blocked or altered. Keep an eye on those heads and replace those that break.

What about planting native plants or those that are adapted to our climate?

Incorporating native or adapted plants to areas in your yard can help you build a more sustainable landscape. These plants typically use less water, have fewer issues with pests, and thrive in less-than-perfect soil conditions. Along with less water, they also require less pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.

An excellent online tool to help you refresh your yard using native and adapted plants is the Texas SmartScape website (www.txsmartscape.com). This website is free and has online landscape design functions and an easy-to-use, and frequently updated, plant database developed just for the North Central Texas area.

How much time will this take?

Considering the above changes to some of the ways you may be maintaining your yard, you’re going to be spending less time watering and doing yard work. You’ll have more time to just sit back and enjoy your beautiful yard while conserving water and saving money on your water bill.

For more information on these tips and others, visit the Prairielands GCD website at www.prairielandsgcd.org or call (817) 556-2299. The Prairielands GCD office is located in the Liberty Hotel, 205 S. Caddo St., Cleburne, TX, 76031.

Karen Siddall
Pin on Pinterest

After 2 years of heavy spring rains, and pretty regular storm clouds in the sky lately, water conservation may not be much of a topic of conversation these days. However, conditions of plenty can change very quickly in our area: just look back at May. Although May is historically our wettest month of the year with an average rainfall of 3.99 inches, May of 2017 was almost record dry across our area with only 1.46 inches recorded in Midlothian.  (Of course, then came June with a respectable 5.23 inches recorded.)

May usually ushers in our driest, hottest months in North Central Texas. Our biggest water output during this time is for outdoor watering. To avoid the “sticker shock” of a high water bill and still keep your yard at its healthiest, it is important to know how to tell when your landscape needs supplemental watering.

When do you need to water?

For two of our area’s most popular warm-season grasses, Bermuda and St. Augustine, one way to determine if it is time to water is by inspection of the blades of grass themselves. If your Bermuda grass lawn presents wilting leaves and a blue-gray color throughout, that is a good indication of drought stress; your yard could use supplemental watering. If your St. Augustine grass has a dull, bluish color, rolled or folded leaves, and footprints tend to retain their shape after you’ve walked across your lawn, it is showing signs of drought stress as well. Time for you to water.

How much/how long do you need to water?

Of course, each yard will be different. However, the following principles will apply to all turf grasses. Deep infrequent watering creates deep roots. Shallow frequent watering creates short roots. As water evaporates from the soil surface, short-rooted plants and lawns will need water more often. Deep-rooted plants and lawns will be able to absorb water from the deeper soil, over a longer period of time. This approach also reduces disease, helps insure good air movement down to the root system, and conserves water. Water lawns slowly, allowing water to reach a depth of 6 inches.

As for how long this will take, again, each yard will be different. Try watching and measuring how long it takes for your sprinkler to fill a standard sized tuna can (or cat food can) with one inch of water as it sweeps across the yard. If water starts running off your lawn before hitting the one-inch mark, pause the process to allow the water to soak into the underlying soil, before continuing. Note the amount of time before you paused and the amount of time you needed to wait before continuing. You may need to pause more than once. But once you’ve successfully capture one inch of water in your catch can, you can determine your watering pattern for your individual yard. Just reproduce what you did to get one inch of water on your lawn, then stop.

What time do you need to water?

Since 50-60% of your irrigation can be lost to evaporation, it is best to water when that is less likely to happen. Whenever possible, water between midnight and 8:00 a.m. 

What about automatic sprinkler systems?

You need to understand how to operate, set, and re-program your automatic sprinkler system. Determine how much water your system discharges (as described previously) and set the timing of the various zones in your configuration to water what is needed for your type of grass, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees. As your landscape matures, the height of some of your plantings may even necessitate changes in your head placements as the spray patterns become blocked or altered. Keep an eye on those heads and replace those that break.

What about planting native plants or those that are adapted to our climate?

Incorporating native or adapted plants to areas in your yard can help you build a more sustainable landscape. These plants typically use less water, have fewer issues with pests, and thrive in less-than-perfect soil conditions. Along with less water, they also require less pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.

An excellent online tool to help you refresh your yard using native and adapted plants is the Texas SmartScape website (www.txsmartscape.com). This website is free and has online landscape design functions and an easy-to-use, and frequently updated, plant database developed just for the North Central Texas area.

How much time will this take?

Considering the above changes to some of the ways you may be maintaining your yard, you’re going to be spending less time watering and doing yard work. You’ll have more time to just sit back and enjoy your beautiful yard while conserving water and saving money on your water bill.

For more information on these tips and others, visit the Prairielands GCD website at www.prairielandsgcd.org or call (817) 556-2299. The Prairielands GCD office is located in the Liberty Hotel, 205 S. Caddo St., Cleburne, TX, 76031.

Karen Siddall
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Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District (www.prairielandsgcd.org) recently announced the addition of one new staff member bringing the current district staff to full strength.

Michael Heath will serve as the district’s field technician and will be responsible for the monitor well program, water well inspections, and district investigations. Mr. Heath comes to the district from the City of Cleburne Water Utility Department where he served as a water treatment plant operator for approximately 2 years. Mr. Heath has additional experience in this field with the Benbrook Water Authority. Mr. Heath has Class “C” Groundwater Treatment Operator and Class “B” Surface Water Treatment Operator Licenses from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and joined the current staff of four in the Cleburne office on June 19, 2017.

In addition to the new field technician, district staff includes Jim Conkwright, general manager, Rosetta Douthitt, office administrator, Stephanie Rexrode, records administrator, and Karen Siddall, public relations and education administrator.

The Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District conserves, protects, and enhances groundwater resources in Ellis, Johnson, Hill, and Somervell counties.  The district was created in 2009 by the 81st Texas Legislature in response to a finding by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that critical groundwater shortages were expected in the four-county area over the next 25 years.

The district is guided by an 8-member board of directors, 2 from each county, appointed to 4-year terms by their counties’ commissioners’ court.

More information about the district can be found on the website www.prairielandsgcd.org or by calling 817-556-2299.