June 24th, 2024

Tips to decrease water consumption during a Medicine Hat summer

By Medicine Hat News on August 7, 2018.

When one thinks of valuable commodities, what comes to mind are things like precious metals, lumber and food. As Canadians, what usually does not come to mind is water. Once an abundant natural resource, water is now becoming one of the more valuable commodities in the 21st Century.

The City of Medicine Hat Parks and Recreation department continues to improve upon water management within our parks and green spaces. Irrigation exists in over 650 acres of manicured/forested park areas, as well as sport fields and boulevards. Approximately 90 per cent of these irrigated acres utilize potable water.

We are constantly improving on water management and conservation in our parks areas. Practices such as drought conditioning, alternate fertilizer formulations, aerating, dethatching and increasing mowing height are all beneficial to turf health and decreases water consumption.

Early morning hours and late evening are the best times to irrigate. This decreases the chance of water evaporating as temperatures are cooler and wind speeds are lower. Remember to check your automatic sprinkler systems regularly for function, leaks, breaks and improper valve and sprinkler operation, as this will increase water consumption. A reduction in cycle time should occur if water is observed to be running off.

Increasing the mowing height of grass allows the longer blades to shade the crown of the plant and improve moisture retention. Not bagging grass clippings is also beneficial, as they are full of nutrients, contain moisture, decompose quickly and can decrease water requirements. This is more beneficial if you mow frequently or use a mulching blade on your mower.

Fertilizing is important for the overall health of the plant. Proper fertilization formulations and applications assist the plant in creating deep root structures which helps it to withstand drought conditions. Proper nutrient levels allow the plant to compete with undesirable vegetation; however over fertilizing can lead to increased water consumption.

Yellow grass is not necessarily dead grass. Cool season grasses go in to a state of dormancy in times of high heat stress. Dormancy occurs when there is limited water available and the plant then transfers its resources to the roots. Grass can remain in this state for up to four weeks.

The City of Medicine Hat continues to strive to better manage water usage. Through the use of new technology, innovation, improved control systems and robust infrastructure we will be able to enjoy healthy grass, trees, flowers and plants for our community and visitors.

Dave Genio is superintendent of parks for the City of Medicine Hat.

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