Spring/summer watering rules begin Sunday

Following Easter Sunday services, go ahead and relax in the shade of your yard, but don’t use your sprinklers between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Albuquerque’s spring/summer outdoor watering rules for sprinkler irrigation begin Sunday and remain in effect through Oct. 31 for those hours.

Those who water during prohibited times face water waste fines for each violation which could range from $20 to $2,000 depending on how many offenses have been reported.

The restrictions do not apply to hand watering or drip irrigation.

“Following the time-of-day rules is especially important this year, since we are in severe drought,” said Carlos Bustos, Conservation Program Manager for the Water Authority. “We really want to encourage people to water their landscapes as efficiently and responsibly as possible.”

The annual spring/summer water restrictions are intended to get people into the habit of avoiding watering during the hottest and windiest part of the day, “thereby minimizing water loss to wind and heat evaporation,” said Water Utility spokesman David Morris.

“Even if we have an abundant monsoon season, the time-of-day restrictions will remain in place because it’s good practice, regardless of the weather conditions,” Morris said.

An updated drought map from the National Weather Service released this week shows that 99 percent of New Mexico is in some stage of drought, with more than 34 percent of the northern third of the state in extreme drought. The Albuquerque metro area is classified as in severe drought conditions.

Spring runoff won’t be of much help, either. The best snowpack in the state is in the Rio Chama Basin, which is at 45 percent of normal. The Jemez and Pecos river basins are at 16 and 3 percent of normal, respectively, and the Gila and Rio Hondo basins are at zero, the Weather Service reports.

To conserve water and to keep your water bill in check, the Water Authority offers these tips:

• Regularly monitor your irrigation system and repair leaks immediately.

• Adjust your irrigation system so that water does not run on to driveways, sidewalks or streets.

• Follow the time-of-day restrictions and seasonal changes, watering twice a week in April and May, three days a week in the summer, and ramp down again in the fall.

• Irrigate only when plants need it, and then water them deeply rather than too frequently.

• Adding compost to the soil will increase moisture absorption, retention and soil fertility; mulching around plants also aids in soil retention as well as weed reduction.

• Water trees less frequently but allow water to percolate 24 inches into the soil and extending out to the edge of the tree’s canopy.

• Inquire about Water Authority rebates for replacing thirsty turf lawns with a desert-friendly xeriscape.

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