Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD) has added an important new tool at its comprehensive water conservation demonstration facility that will collect weather data 24/7 in collaboration with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension experts. The objective of installing this new equipment is to generate an Evapotranspiration (ET) number to help residents use their irrigation systems more efficiently by knowing the ideal amount of water needed to sustain a healthy lawn.
According to Kathy Turner Jones, Lone Star’s General Manager, “The new weather station will be equipped to monitor, record and transmit temperature, the amount of moisture in the air, solar radiation and wind speed on a continuous basis. The Texas A&M team will routinely collect and evaluate the data, using formulas specially created for this application. At the beginning of each week,” Jones continued, “they will generate an ET number that identifies the amount of water needed to apply to turf grasses. This amount of water can range from zero to an inch or so per week…depending on rainfall and other contributing factors.”
While the technology has been in use around the state for some time, this will be the first weather station located within Montgomery County that will provide data to the public at large.
“Installing this system at our headquarters will enable us to serve as the ‘central location’ necessary to make the information available to the whole community,” the Lone Star general manager said. “We will also be receiving rainfall data from other remote gauges located throughout the county.”
The District will be rolling out the information part of the new program to enable commercial and residential “users” to regulate — or synch-up — their irrigation system controllers so that they deliver only the amount of water necessary. Experts point out that during summer months in this region up to 80 percent of the water used is for irrigating lawns and landscaping. Approximately 50 percent of that water is wasted!
“Far too many people believe that they must water their lawns every day…or at least every other day,” Jones explained. “Neighbors are complaining that even after a rain, folks are still watering their lawns in the middle of the day when evaporation will make sure some of the droplets never even touch the ground! People are grumbling about water running down the gutter from common areas and esplanades, as well. More and more people get it!”
“The drought has nudged all of us into being water conservationists,” Jones said, “Having this new equipment enables us to provide pertinent information for residents who want to make informed decisions about their irrigation practices. As we have said repeatedly, the cheapest water we’ll ever have is that we save through conservation.”
Information about the program will be shared with Utility Districts, municipalities and other water providers, through e-mail and social media, and will also appear on the LSGCD and Texas A&M websites each week.