Conservation Corner – July 2022

If you live outside of the city you probably have a well that is powered by electricity. In the city you probably have a water bill. Saving irrigation water can save you money on your electric or water bill. Using drip irrigation can provide much-needed hydration for landscaping or crops, and also helps save our precious water resources.

Drip irrigation systems work by applying a small amount of water uniformly across a specific area. There are two common versions of this type of irrigation: a subsurface drip irrigation system and surface drip irrigation system. A surface drip irrigation system is added after the landscaping or crops are planted and can provide irrigation support directly to the roots without spraying empty ground or having the fine water spray from a sprinkler evaporate before it can help the plant. Key benefits of these systems include decreased water use compared to other irrigation methods, targeted water at the root zone, and importantly, energy—and therefore money—savings!

Drip irrigation is used throughout Washington, often in landscaping, fruit and vegetable production, businesses, nurseries and greenhouses, and for other high-value, commodity crops.

How do drip irrigation systems save energy? Compared to their high-pressure, high-energy counterparts, drip irrigation can cut down energy costs as much as 50% and increase water efficiency up to 40 to 70%, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSC) Irrigation Guide. On the farm, energy required in crop irrigation is directly tied to the level of pumping required.

Drip irrigation applies water to the surface of crops or roots, which minimizes the amount of pump usage. As mentioned, the nature of the drip irrigation is to provide a small, focused application of water at the base of the plant which requires less pressure (8 to 20 psi) than higher pressure alternatives like sprinkler systems (45 to 70 psi). This focused water delivery also reduces seepage and evaporation losses compared with systems that water the entire field area.

Installing a low-pressure, water-efficient, drip irrigation system, can significantly reduce energy costs. Homeowners can save water, energy and therefore cash. If you are a farmer with irrigation and are switching from impact sprinklers to a drip or a lower water applicator, we may be able to get you a rebate. Please visit our Rebate Offers page or give us a call.

Charlie DeSalvo, Energy Efficiency Specialist

If you have any questions about energy efficiency, email Charlie DeSalvo or call (509) 526-4041.