2020’s first Science Cafe addresses water conservation and being “water smart”

BY MICAH REINKE

A new Science Cafe topic was addressed Monday evening at The Venue located in Thirsty’s in Hays. The topic discussed was on being water smart in and around the city of Hays. Holly Dickman, the Water Conservation Specialist for the City of Hays was the speaker. 

“Hays is the only city in Kansas with a population over 15,000 that does not have a water source under it,” Dickman said. “The summer of 2012 was horrible, Hays experienced the worst drought we had ever seen, and it doesn’t take long for the soil to go from slightly dry to extreme drought, we saw this back in 2012.”

“However, 2018 was the wettest year on record as Hays experienced 37 inches of rainfall, nevertheless the city experienced a large amount of water usage,” Dickman continued. 

She then went on to talk about the importance of being “water smart” and how it is important to know how the plants in your yard utilize water.

“According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) water sense, as much as 50% of water used in outdoor lawns and gardens is wasted, it is not wasted by the plants, but rather by the people overwatering those plants which cause runoff,” Dickman said. 

One way to help combat this overuse is utilizing zeroscaping. Zeroscaping is a way of reducing water usage by utilizing rocks, wood chips, small decorative plants, or turf to decorate instead of grass that typically uses a large amount of water.

“Residents should test their soil about every 3 years to determine what the current nutrient levels are, maybe you don’t need to fertilize as much as you think, it all comes back to being water-smart,” Dickman said. “If we water deep and less often, the plants will grow better and taller and be healthier, letting water slowly soak in is much better for the grass in your yard, it also helps save water”

Dickman also advocated for automated watering systems, as well as using mulch in the summertime.  

“Automatic watering systems are very good, they will automatically shut off your yard water if it starts raining,” she said. “Mulch is very important to moderate soil temperatures in the summer, keep the weeds down, and keep the water in the soil longer to keep your landscape looking clean and healthy throughout the growing season.”
For more information about how you can be water smart in your lawn, contact Holly Dickman at hdickman@haysusa.com

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