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Environmental pros encourage water conservation

By ALLISON MILES
July 31, 2012 at 2:31 a.m.

Despite recent rains throughout the Crossroads, farmers, ranchers and homeowners are encouraged to conserve water. Victoria is still in the grips of moderate to severe drought circumstances.

Water conservation tips for the lawn

• Water when it's cooler, in the morning or evening. It eliminates evaporation.

• Check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks from time to time.

• Adjust the lawn mower up at least one notch, since taller lawns retain moisture better.

• Make sure sprinklers water the lawn and not the house, street or sidewalk.

• Clean the driveway and sidewalk with a broom, rather than a hose.

• Nourish grass with fertilizer, so it can better recover from drought stress.

• Remove weeds, which steal water from other plants.

• Adjust your watering schedule to match seasonal weather.

• Set a timer when watering the lawn or garden to remind you when to stop.

• Wash the car on the lawn, and you'll water the grass at the same time.

• Avoid watering until you can see footprints in the lawn after you walk through.

• Install a rain sensor with the irrigation system so it doesn't run during rain.

• Aerate the lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots.

• Have a licensed irrigator check your sprinkler system annually for problems.

• Retrofit your existing irrigation system with new conservation technology.

Source: Texas Water Smart website

For more information

For more information on conservation programs offered through the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, call 361-575-9542, Extension 3.

Recent rainfall might have greened up things throughout the Crossroads, but environmental pros say conservation remains important.

Despite appearances, the area remains in moderate to severe drought, said Jerry James, the city of Victoria's director of environmental services.

"We're in a lot better shape this year than we have been, but droughts are more than just what happened this year or last year," he said. "We're still feeling the effects from the drought in 2009, and last year was the worst year we've had, historically."

James encouraged people to look into Texas Water Smart, a statewide program aimed at conservation. The website includes tips for homeowners, farmers and ranchers, he said, and can help not only cut back on water use, but save on bills.

Michael Donalson, Texas AgriLife Extension agent for Refugio County, agreed the Crossroads wasn't in the clear just yet.

The region appears to be entering into a wet pattern, he said, but that can quickly change. Farmers and ranchers should remain conscientious.

He said rainwater harvesting is one method of conserving the moisture that falls, and it can be done cost effectively, depending on the system. Well usage is another important consideration.

"Make sure that, if you're going to use irrigation, you use it properly and maintain how much you're using," he advised. "Not many people down here have irrigation pivots but, if you do, don't go out and try to make a crop on irrigating it."

Producers with other questions can always contact the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, said Diane Arnold, district conservationist for the organization. Programs are available regarding irrigation efficiency, brush programs and more.

All in all, James said Victoria was fortunate. The city took proactive measures for alternative water supplies during drought situations, he said, and things are better than they were.

Still, it's good to be prepared.

"We're in very good shape here, compared to most cities in Texas," he said. "But it's still a limited resource. We have to take care of the resources we have."

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