Clallam County Conservation District says less is more

Summer means different things to different people.

To the Clallam County Conservation District, it means time to cut back on outdoor water use.

In the district's summer newsletter, many tips are offered on how to conserve water around the yard.

District Manager Joe Holtrop said conservation doesn't always directly benefit the person doing the conserving, unless the water comes from a public system and savings are found in using less water.

"But everyone needs to do their part to use resources wisely, otherwise it's possible that everyone will eventually have to pay the price in the future," he said.

The Dungeness River supplies water for uses from irrigation to residential to commercial and everyone depends on it, he said.

Many people in the valley are on wells and by law can irrigate only up to half an acre, he said. That can make it difficult to keep a lawn lush year-round.

The district offers workshops and classes on water-saving and environmentally friendly landscapes to help homeowners conserve, he said.

Some tips offered are to mow grass high, 2 inches or higher, to promote deeper roots to access moisture from the soil. Also, irrigate the lawn with deep and infrequent watering - about once a week or less. The district recommends letting lawns go dormant, watering only an inch for each dry month, to allow them to bounce back when the rain returns.

Having more drought-tolerant plants, such as lavender, in landscaping can help in conservation efforts, he said. The district has brochures listing native species suggested for environmentally friendly and drought-tolerant gardens.

The district recently pitched in to help irrigators conserve water by piping 6,160 feet of irrigation canal.

The annual water savings from the project could flood more than 3,000 football fields to a depth of 1 foot, according to the district's newsletter.

Such savings are especially important during dry years. Holtrop said irrigators often notice the low water levels before other water users.

In the early 2000s, there were several drought years in a row, he said. The last drought was around 2007 and so far this year is looking good, thanks to heavy snowpacks, he said.

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