The number one way to save water in Kelowna is to ensure that automatic irrigation systems are operating efficiently. Irrigation experts estimate homeowners can reduce outdoor watering needs by 25 per cent just by keeping up with irrigation system maintenance and setting the timer properly.
The Water Smart program offers free irrigation system assessments. This is a basic walk-though of your system that takes about 30 minutes. A Water Smart coordinator will help troubleshoot the top five ways that irrigation systems can waste water, which include:
The first, most obvious things to look for. Sprinkler heads are susceptible to damage, and since most people run their systems while they sleep, broken heads often go unnoticed.
A perfect irrigation system would deliver water evenly across your landscape, but wind, slopes, mismatched heads and pressure changes can make some areas too wet and other areas too dry. Often a dry spot isn’t caused by a lack of water, so increasing run times won’t help. The water may not even reach the dry spot because of poor distribution uniformity.
Rotating spray heads move in an arc. Fixed spray heads do not move. Obviously, a fixed head will deliver more water in one spot over time than a rotating head. Ensure that you do not have rotating and fixed heads in the same zone.
Inefficiencies can occur when changes are made to landscapes over time, without making adjustments to the irrigation system. As a result, there may be areas where some sprinkler heads could be replaced with a drip system or even eliminated entirely.
Sprinkler timings should be adjusted to the micro-climates of the yard and watering needs for each individual zone.
A rain sensor or rain switch is a device activated by rainfall. A rain sensor is a water conservation device connected to an automatic irrigation system that causes the system to shut down in the event of rainfall. Rain sensors can be purchased at most hardware stores across the City.
The City of Kelowna Water Utility requires its customers complete a Landscape Water Conservation Report before installing a new irrigation system. This applies to both residential and commercial properties.
These requirements are specified within the Water Regulation Bylaw for the City Water Utility area (specifically section 4.4 and schedule C).
The Water Regulation Bylaw was adopted to conserve water and support the City's commitment to sustainability.
Who does the bylaw apply to?
- All residential dwellings serviced by the City of Kelowna Water Utility, installing new irrigated landscape material comprising of an area of 100 square meters.
- Not sure if the bylaw applies to you? Check out the City's Water Provider Map to find out.
- Irrigation of farm crops does not require an application.
Anything else I should know?
- Every new irrigation system must be installed with an outdoor irrigation master shut off valve outside the building, accessible to the City, and also must install an irrigation controller that can program by day of week. See Water Regulation bylaw, section 4.4.10.
- A Backflow Protection device (Dual Check valve for residential) is required for irrigation connections. A Plumbing Permit is required for the Backflow Protection device.
Completing the Landscape Water Conservation Report is necessary to ensure that the landscape design and the irrigation design work together to achieve water efficiency.
Step 1: Measure the total landscape area
- Landscape area includes any area that will absorb water – lawn, plantings, and mulch areas. It also includes pervious paving or pervious decks.
- Include the absorbent parts of boulevard between the property line and the street.
- Do not include areas that won’t absorb water – buildings, impervious driveways or walks.
Step 2: Design your water efficient yard
- Divide your landscape into areas with similar water needs. These “hydrozones” can be no water zones, or low, medium or high water needs. If it helps the process, sketch out a simple diagram.
- Consider microclimates - areas of your yard with different sun/wind exposure.
- Determine the area (in square meters) of each hydrozone. You will need these numbers to complete the application. The sum of hydrozone areas must equal the total landscape area.
Step 3: Check if your design is water efficient
There are now two ways to fill out a Landscape Water Conservation Report.
1. Visit the BC Water Calculator to input all the information from your design and ensure it meets water efficiency requirements. This tool is a fantastic way to learn the water needs of many types of plants and landscaping material. Instructions on how to complete the report are available in "Users Guide" which can be found under Help tab of the website.
2. Download the Landscape Water Conservation Report (.xls).
- On the first page of the workbook, enter the details about your project and check off the irrigation system requirements.
- On the second page, enter the total landscaped area as well as the areas of the individual hydrozones in the yellow highlighted areas.
- The spreadsheet automatically calculates the Landscape Maximum Water Budget (WB), the Estimated Landscape Water Use (WU), and the difference between them.
- WB - is the calculated annual water use if 100% of landscape area was irrigated lawn.
- WU - is the estimated annual water use for irrigating the landscape based on your design.
- The calculated difference between the WB and the WU is displayed as either a red or a blue number on the third page of the Application.
- A red number indicates that your landscape/irrigation design is not water efficient. A blue number means it is ok to submit your application.
- The goal is to reduce the WU of your landscape design below the WB. Try different designs to see which one results in more water saved.
Step 4: Save and email your application
- Once you are satisfied with your final design and calculated water use, save your application using the project address for the name (ex: 1435WaterStreet.xls).
- Email the application to email@example.com.
- You should get a reply within 48 hours with the status of your application.