Managing your well during the dry, fall season

The latest United States Drought Monitor has designated more than half the Commonwealth of Virginia as “Abnormally Dry.”

water-levels-dropping

Real-time well monitoring in Bedford County shows a continuous drop in levels during the month of September.

Real-time well monitoring sites in Bedford County, Virginia have shown a consistent drop in water table levels since late August. Likewise, weather stations in surrounding counties haven’t measured an inch or more rain during a single storm since late July.

The dry weather, which is expected to continue through the first part of fall, has raised concerns from private well owners, farmers and landscapers.

 

Groundwater levels will fluctuate naturally from season to season, shown in this graphic from Penn State University, with the lowest levels typically being in the late summer and early fall.

Natural Groundwater Fluctuation

Levels typically rebound in the late fall and early winter as plants and trees stop growing and the demand for groundwater lowers.

By January and February, frozen soil can limit the amount of water than is absorbed into the ground, hence the slight drop late in the winter.

HOW CAN I CONSERVE WATER?

It doesn’t take much to cut back on the amount of water your household uses each day. By doing simple things as cutting off the water during shaving, or only limiting your time in the shower, you can conserve hundreds of gallons of water each month.

Water Usage

WellOwner.org offer the following tips:

Indoors

  • Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering your indoor plants or garden.
  • Repair dripping faucets and toilets. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water a year.
  • Don’t run a faucet when you’re not using the water, such as while brushing your teeth.

Kitchen

  • Only run the dishwasher when it is fully loaded, and use the “light wash” feature, if available, to use less water.
  • Store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap until the water is cool.
  • Avoid wasting water waiting for it to get hot. Capture it for other uses such as plant watering.

Laundry

  • Operate clothes washers only when they are fully loaded, or set the water level to match the size of your load.

Outdoors

  • Check your well pump periodically. If the automatic pump turns on and off while water is not being used, you could have a leak.
  • Install irrigation devices that are the most water efficient for each use. Micro and drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of efficient devices.
  • Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil.
  • Avoid buying recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.

Car Washing

  • Use a shutoff nozzle on the hose that can be adjusted down to a fine spray.

Lawn Care

  • Avoid over watering your lawn. A heavy rain eliminates the need for watering for up to two weeks. Most of the year, lawns only need one inch of water per week.
  • Water in several short sessions rather than one long one, in order for your lawn to better absorb moisture.
  • Position sprinklers so that water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas.
  • Avoid sprinklers that spray a fine mist. Mist can evaporate before it reaches the lawn.
  • Raise the mower blade to a higher level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture.