KID says to water during heat of the day

By Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJuly 4, 2013 

Don't be afraid of watering during the hottest hours of the day -- even when the temperature jumps into triple digits.

That's the message Kennewick Irrigation District is trying to get to customers.

Unlike homeowners using city or well water, irrigation water users don't need to worry about water evaporation when they water during the hottest times of the day, according to the district.

KID has a 300 percent to 500 percent spike in water use between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. during irrigation season.

But the canal system was built for 24-hour-a-day use, not for peak period fluctuations, said Scott Revell, KID's planning manager.

KID is encouraging customers to consider watering between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to help ease those spikes. The goal is to increase water efficiency and avoid low water pressure.

"We are very fortunate, this is a full water supply year," Revell said.

Water in KID's canals has been used two or three times upstream. And KID is working to maximize canal efficiency by lining the canals to prevent water seepage and other efforts.

But customer efficiency is needed too.

Switching more users to the hot hours of the day would make a big difference in balancing the demand, he explained.

With spikes, more water is diverted from the Yakima River then if the demand is spread out. Every bucket of water diverted at the Prosser dam for irrigation needs an additional 1.5 buckets of water diverted to run the hydro pumps at the Chandler pumping system east of Prosser.

Also, pumps can't keep up in neighborhoods served by KID ponds if most users turn their water on at the same time, said Revell. By spreading out the use, the pond doesn't dry up.

And watering during the day will not harm lawns and plants, Revell said.

KID advises watering with a half-inch of water every two to three days when the temperature is more than 100 degrees. KID customers can also get free water gauges from KID to measure water delivery, he said.

Most residential sprinklers that pop up from the ground deliver about an eighth of an inch of water every 10 minutes, Revell said.

Some customers will turn on the water for 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes multiple times a day, Revell said. But it is better to water once for 25 to 35 minutes every three days.

That kind of deep watering makes plants more tolerant to heat stress and promotes deep roots, he said.

Another key to keeping lawns healthy is allowing them to stay a little long. Revell suggests setting mowers to the highest blade setting.

KID also advises making sure water is only hitting what grows, and not sidewalks or streets. Also, do not fertilize lawns when it is hot.

Water gauges are available at KID's office, 12 W. Kennewick Ave., during normal business hours. For more information, call 509-586-9111.

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