Water Smart

Comparison image of Lake Mead at Hoover Dam in 1983 when lake was full and in 2021 during the height of the drought.

Due to a decades-long drought in the Colorado River basin and declining water levels at Lake Mead, the federal government declared a water shortage on the Colorado River, reducing Southern Nevada’s water supply by 7 billion gallons this year. It’s more important than ever that everyone be water smart and help conserve our water supply.

Residents can do their part with three simple actions:

  1. Follow the mandatory seasonal watering restrictions
  2. Prevent or stop water waste
  3. Replace “pointless grass” in your yard that no one uses

The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) offers cash rebates and coupons to help you save water, including the Water Smart Landscapes (WSL) rebate. WSL provides a cash incentive of up to $3 a square foot to property owners who replace water-thirsty grass with drip-irrigated plants and trees. (Some restrictions apply.)

You can find your assigned watering days, how-to videos and even a search tool to discover water-smart plants, trees and shrubs for your yard on snwa.com.

Drip Irrigation

Summer Watering Restrictions
Until Sept. 1, landscape watering is prohibited from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. when temperatures soar and winds are stronger. Sunday watering is never allowed. Southern Nevadans can save billions of gallons of water a year simply by following the mandatory seasonal watering restrictions. To find your assigned watering days, visit the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) website at snwa.com.
Lighten up on plants, trees and shrubs

Running drip irrigation for too many days is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners make. Plants don’t need as much water as grass, so lighten up! In the summer, run drip irrigation three days a week for one, long cycle depending upon how much water your emitters drip. High-flow emitters tend to stream water while low-flow emitters drip water slowly. Follow this guide:

High-flow emitter 5-20 gph* 1 cycle 20-40 minutes per cycle
Low-flow emitter Up to 4 gph* 1 cycle 30-90 minutes per cycle

*Most drip emitters have the gallons per hour (gph) printed on them. The higher the gph, the less time you need to run your drip irrigation system.

irrigation sprinklers

Water grass in shorter sips

Sprinklers should run for three short cycles each watering day to irrigate grass. Run the short cycles about an hour apart so the water soaks down into the soil, reaching deeper roots while helping prevent wasteful water runoff. SNWA recommends the following “cycle and soak” schedule for summer, fall and spring:

Watering 1: 5 a.m. for 4 minutes
Watering 2: 6 a.m. for 4 minutes
Watering 3: 7 a.m. for 4 minutes

*Hand water brown spots to avoid water waste. Replace unused grass with a water-smart landscape and earn a cash incentive from the Water Authority. Apply online at snwa.com.

Don’t fear your clock!

Irrigation controllers (also known as sprinkler clocks) can be intimidating, but a simple internet search of the make and model of your controller will likely result in plenty of helpful videos to get you on your way. Keep an eye on your yard and adjust your watering as needed. Sprinklers and drip need to run on different PROGRAMS of your clock because they require different types of watering. Set Program A for sprinklers and grass areas, which run in short cycles on your assigned watering days. Set Program B for drip irrigation, which runs in longer cycles, but on fewer days each week. Remember to adjust your watering days and times to comply with the seasonal watering restrictions and to avoid a water waste fine. Find your watering days at snwa.com.

Get a smart irrigation controller
Keep landscape irrigation simple – upgrade to a smart irrigation controller, which can automatically adjust to weather conditions and is easily programmed via your mobile device. SNWA offers a rebate of 50 percent off the purchase price up to $100. Visit snwa.com for details.

Other watering tips:

• Warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, require about one-third less water.

• If you have high-efficiency rotating sprinklers, water for 12 minutes each watering, rather than 4 minutes.

• Don’t water when it’s windy or rainy.

• Check your sprinkler system for malfunctions monthly.

• Modify spray patterns from sprinkler heads by re-adjusting for better direction or installing variable arc nozzles.