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Drought Busters Use Smart Irrigation

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If there ain’t no rain in your neighborhood…who ya gonna call? Drought Busters!
If it’s really dry and it don’t look good…who ya gonna call? Drought Busters!
With a wink and a nod to Ghostbusters, those phrases can apply to the nearly invisible precipitation we’ve had across Plano and the rest of Texas for months – and what we can do about it.

With the rain outlook for spring and summer shaping-up to be more mirages than moisture, it’s up to us to step-up to this protracted dry spell. It's time to take a stand as Drought Busters to win the arid battle with wet ideas that work.
Here’s the deal. The National Weather Service in Ft. Worth reports we’ll have near normal precipitation the next three months. But in a drought, we need above-normal precipitation.

But as the National Weather Service’s Jesse Moore puts it, there's a slim chance that will happen. Says Moore: “If a tropical system comes along this summer, that may be our best hope for relief. But I'm not seeing that happening at this point." OK. We get it. Thankfully, it's clear others do, too: recent data show home and commercial irrigation methods are changing to meet the challenge of vanishing water supplies from rivers and groundwater sources. And that's crucial because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports inefficient watering methods and systems waste as much as half of water we use outdoors.

Texas farmer Marshall Hinsley offers some timely, simple and even innovative solutions to better outdoor water use. Hinsley's also a Waxahachie-based writer, producer and videographer. And he’s a major resource for the Garden Café in East Dallas with a menu and approach that embodies the local farm-to-table movement.

Hinsley offers a range of home garden and irrigation tips, including mulching, drip irrigation and even hydroponics. But perhaps his most noteworthy recent discovery is a unique, simple and inexpensive method devised in Israel. It appears the Israelis are leading a revolution in the way farmers irrigate crop with an ingenious drip irrigation system. It's an innovative mat made to water trees and food crops. Made by the Tal-Ya Corp. of Israel, the mat is made of a lightweight, flexible and durable plastic. Shaped like a funnel, the mat funnels dew and rain water from above and evaporated moisture from underneath it to the center of the mat that flows the available water to young plants and saplings. Go here to learn more about innovation Hinsley calls “Texas Drought Buster Weed Mats.” Hinsley’s father ordered enough mats to cover the family’s tomatoes and peppers plus make a few available online.

The City of Plano notes that in urban areas of Texas, about 40 to 50 percent of drinking water is used for landscape watering. So applying water efficiently to landscapes is crucial to conserving our precious wet resource.There’s a wide range of steps you can take to make sure you’re saving water outdoors. Regular checks of your lawn sprinkler system, mulching, drip irrigation and even the cutting height of your grass all can make a difference. Click here to learn more about each of these steps and more. Go here to find out how you can access the Plano Water Rebate Program’s residential rain barrel application.

And consider viewing the special EPA website it created for its "We're for Water" national campaign to educate consumers about water-saving behaviors and WaterSense labeled products. The WaterSense label makes it easy to identify products that use less water and perform as well as or better than standard models. Plano is a proud EPA WaterSense Partnet that offers residents free WaterSense approved water saving devices and water utility credit when residents replace a water-guzzling toilet with a WaterSense approved high efficiency toilet. Check out the Plano water resources site here.

Plano area residents are invited to attend the special Water-Wise for the Summer Heat presentation to learn valuable tips on making smart use of water in the hot months ahead. The free event will be offered from 7:00-8:00 p.m. tomorrow, May 1, at the Harrington Library, 1501 18th Street in Plano. Call 972-769-4313 for information.

Learn more about Plano environmental and sustainability resources and training classes by visiting the Live Green in Plano website.

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