Outdoor water-saving tips from the pros


Outdoor water-saving tipsThe single most important thing Bendites can do to conserve water is to know how much water they use outdoors.  Why?  Because most of us have no idea! Outdoors is where we have the biggest opportunity to make an impact and the more you know about how much you use, the the easier it is to use less.

The best way to calculate outdoor water use is by using the bar graph on your monthly City of Bend water bill.  Add up your 12 months water used in cubic feet.  Then multiply your winter quarter average (also located in the “water” section of the monthly bill) by 12 and subtract from the total annual amount.  This represents the approximate amount of water you used outdoors last year.  Oh yeah…one cubic feet equals 7.48 gallons of water.

So how much water did you use outdoors last year?  10,000 gallons?  30,000 gallons?  100,000 gallons?  More?  The numbers can be staggering depending on your lot size, landscape choices, and irrigation schedule.

Now that you know that there is  huge opportunity to save water, it is time to inspect that irrigation system.  These systems, like any home heating or cooling system, require regular maintenance and occasional re-investment to ensure they’re operating properly.  Follow these three steps to get started:

  • Complete a monthly visual inspection of each irrigation zone while in operation. Note tilted, broken or misaligned sprinklers that need to be straightened, replaced or adjusted.  These often result in wet or dry spots, overspray or runoff onto adjacent impervious surfaces, and an overall drop in system performance.


  • Adjust your irrigation controller’s schedule monthly. Bend water customers can irrigate on an Even / Odd day schedule (addresses ending in an even number irrigate on even days, addresses ending in an odd number irrigate on odd days).  Irrigation is not allowed between 9:00am and 5:00pm.  There’s almost never a need to irrigate a home landscape two times per day unless you’re establishing new seed, young plantings, or dealing with a steep slope that can only take short, multiple waterings.
  • Invest in newer, more efficient irrigation technology. Smart irrigation controllers  that automatically adjust irrigation depending on weather, have come a long way in recent years.  They are getting more and more user friendly and even able to connect to your home’s WiFi.  My irrigation controller is cloud based and not much more than an App on my smartphone.  This isn’t for everyone, but receiving email updates about my irrigation schedule being skipped due to a forecasted rain event is pretty cool.

Ready to take this inspection to the next level?  Contact the City of Bend Utility Department (541-317-3000 / conservation@bendoregon.gov) to schedule an inspection through our Sprinkler Inspection Pilot Program.  We’re out saving water almost every day!

As always, visit us at www.waterwisetips.org to learn more about our program and ways to conserve this precious resource!

About the Author

Mike Buettner, Water Conservation Program Manager, City of Bend

Dolling out advice is a big part of the job for me.  Luckily, educating and informing customers on the best, most effective ways to save water is what drew me to this field.  How many other people get to spend their days helping people become less dependent on our most precious natural resource?  So when I was asked to be a guest blogger for the he  was more than happy to offer my two cents. Be sure to check back for some tips for saving water indoors next week.