The timers, they are a-changin’

Many people were surprised when the Truckee Meadows Water Authority changed the rules for watering lawns from a possible two days a week to a possible three days a week. The plan seemed counter-intuitive: More days meant more water on lawns. The restrictive two-day-a-week schedule had been successful in encouraging people to conserve, and the constant reminders of the scarcity and cost of the precious stuff had people all over Northern Nevada xeriscaping and watching their runoff.

Well, it’s pretty simple: These days, when people are charged by the gallon, they pay attention to how those gallons are used.

“Our studies have shown that whether a customer waters two days a week or three days a week, they’ll use the same amount of water,” said Kim Mazeres, director of customer relations at TMWA. “Say, for example, you were watering 30 minutes a day on Wednesday, and 30 minutes a day on Saturday, because you had an even address. Our studies have shown that the majority of customers out there will choose to water 20 minutes on Tuesday, 20 minutes on Thursday and 20 on Saturday, adding up again to that hour. Or, they’ll just stick to two days.”

And the key to this will be setting the timer. TMWA is holding a series of workshops on setting the irrigation timer for the new assigned-day watering program. The workshops are free and will take place at 1355 Capital Blvd. in Reno. Call 834-8005 for more info. The workshops will be held on Thursday, May 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Wednesday, May 12, noon-1 p.m.; Wednesday, May 19, 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Tuesday, June 8, noon-1 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 23, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Now may also be the time to replace that old timer. The old mechanical timers only set in increments of 15 minutes, which meant if you only needed to water for 5 minutes, you watered for a minimum of 15. The new computerized digital timers can be purchased at any hardware store, and while the good ones are fairly pricey, around $70, you’ll make it back in water savings in a matter of months, not to mention the savings in headaches with the new user friendly time-setting panels.