Aiken Public Works Department Urges Water Conservation

Water usage in Aiken increased by 37 Percent, due to recent heat waves and a lack of rainfall.

The Public Works Department says usage increased by 102 million gallons in May compared to May last year, when it was 273 million gallons. That spike in usage did not exceed the city’s capacity, but if the heat and lack of rain persists, Public Works Director Larry Morris says water usage restrictions will be needed.

Morris says conserving water can prevent the need for restrictions.

Watering the lawn is almost always the largest use of water on a residential property, says Suzanne Holmes, Clemson extension agent for Aiken County. She says over watering happens much too often, which can cause plant problems, and that homes with in-ground irrigation systems use, on average, 43 percent more water than homes where people water by hand.

We do our plants a service when we water when needed, when your lawn and other plants show signs of stress. Too much water on leaves provides a perfect environment for disease spores and bacteria, while over-watering promotes a shallow root system and reduces oxygen to the roots and can encourage some weeds to grow.

Water deeply but infrequently. Lawns typically need 1 to 1_ inches of water once a week, perhaps half that much twice a week for lawns on sandy soils and about a third less in clay soils. Let your lawn tell you when it needs water. When it shows signs of stress such as a bluish gray cast and rolled leaf blades, it is time to water again.

For a few helpful hints from the Public Works Department:

  • Use soaker hoses on beds and shrubs
  • Install a rain shut off device on your automatic sprinklers.
  • Convert some turf area to low-water, native plantings.
  • Improve soil quality with proper fertilization, aeration and compost.
  • Leave the mower clippings on the lawn.
  • Adjust sprinklers that are watering walkways and