Free program helps Utahns save water and keep lawns healthy

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A free program looks to help Utah save water and keep lawns looking great, with simple tests and sprinkler evaluations.

When it comes to water, Utahns are the second largest consumer in the country: using a whopping 240 gallons per person, per day.

Two-thirds of that drinking water is being used to water lawns and landscapes, which is double what we need—according to the Center for Water-Efficient Landscaping.

“Every time you run your sprinklers you want to run so you put down a half an inch of water,” said Terry Curling, a water checker with the Water Check Program.

But getting that perfect half-inch isn’t a matter of time, it’s a matter of your system.

“That’s why we don't give a blanket recommendation as far as 'water this many minutes per day,' because it really factors into how much water is coming out of your sprinkler system,” said Water Check Program manager Jennie Hoover.

“This is the only way you can tell how much water is coming out of your sprinklers,” said Curling, holding up a small blue plastic device with a tempered measuring cup in the center.

“I thought my front yard was going to be spot on, but I got a failing grade,” said homeowner Shawn Teigen after his water check.

Here’s how it works. They put out the cups (people can do this at home with bowls or soup cans as well) and then turn on the sprinklers.

“How long did we run it for?” asked Curling’s assistant.

“Four minutes and three seconds,” he answered.

Based on the amount of water in the cups, they can tell exactly how long you need to water for in order to get the perfect amount and determine if the lawn is well covered.

“That amount of water varies from system to system, every system is different,” Hoover said.

“The less water, the longer time you have to run them,” said Curling, looking at the water collected in one of the blue cups.

The results are then customized to tell each homeowner how to get the most of their system.

“I’ve got some areas that aren’t getting enough water and other areas that are getting a little too much,” Teigen said. “I would have continued to think everything was great, now I’ve got a little bit more knowledge and I know I need to do something about this."

Which means you're keeping the green on your lawn and in your wallet.

“Always saves money if you save water,” Curling said with a smile.

According to the CWEL, if everyone in the state only watered as much as they needed to, it would save Utah 20 billion gallons of water each summer.

Hoover said a common misconception is that you need to water your lawn every day. She said at this time of the year, approaching June, residents should water two days a week. As the season gets hotter that should increase to three days a week.

Water Check is a USU extension program and is currently offered to homeowners in Salt Lake, Utah, Wasatch, Cache, Uintah, Sanpete, Piute and portions of Summit, Juab and Garfield counties.

If you want to schedule a free check click here.