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September 2019 Water ConservationSeptember 2019 water water management for a sustainable future conservation Lake Oswegowww.lowaterconservation.com Water Conservation Let’s Talk Water Kevin McCaleb, Water Conservation Coordinator 503-675-3747 kmccaleb@lakeoswego.city It is September, and we are closing out the season on what has been a more typical summer in our region of the Northwest. I say typical, because our hot and wet periods lined up better with what is historically the norm for our region. The current drought began for us in 2013 and as the maps show, it has yet to completely go away. This season we have been dryer than normal, but we haven’t had many consecutive 90+ degree days and we’ve enjoyed some of that mid-summer season rain that is so important for us. This has helped to prevent many of the wildfires we have suffered through over the last few years and has helped to keep our outdoor water use down this summer. Do I think the drought is over? My answer is a resounding “I have no idea!” What I can tell you, is that one good season will not undo the effects of a drought as severe as the one we have experienced over the last six or seven years. Sustained drought can affect the environment for many years after it releases its grasp. Snow pack and rains that are vital to the health of the Clackamas River have been less in depth and water content over the last several years than what would be considered typical, and their timing and appearance has been inconsistent to say the least. As a result, we have been experiencing reductions in summer flows earlier and perhaps a bit more severely. Plant Du Jour This time of year the garden is beginning to gasp its last breath of air. Most of what we planted this summer is beginning to fade or in some cases disappear altogether. By now we are thinking of breaking down the remaining stems and vines, cranking up the rototiller and putting it to bed for the winter. Yet in some cases there is still time to reap another harvest. In our area, planting early spring vegetables in late summer can yield yet another harvest. Many varieties of the vegetables we planted this spring can still be planted in early to mid-September with a reasonable assurance of a harvest. Hard fall frosts do not typically occur here until late October or early November, so there is ample time to get in some more goodies. Be sure to turn the soil and work in fresh compost. For our container gardening friends, you may want to remove the old soil and add fresh. Place your containers or pots near a sunny wall. You can cover them with plastic at night as the evening temperatures drop into the 50s. Herbs like garlic, leafy vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, spinach and Kale as well as broccoli and cauliflower will withstand mild freezes. Some claim that they are tastier when chilled while growing. Peas and beans can handle the drop in temperature as well. Root vegetables such as carrots, onions, garlic, beets and radishes will still produce before the major winter storms. This is also a great time to plant strawberries, blueberries and other berry producers. Just don’t expect a harvest from them. By the end of October you should start harvesting the rewards. Bon Appetit! U.S. Drought MonitorAugust 7, 2018 U.S. Drought MonitorAugust 8, 2017 U.S. Drought MonitorAugust 9 2016 U.S. Drought MonitorAugust 11, 2015 Continued on page 2 The Colors of Grass While there are many different opinions about turf grass, the one consistent theme is that it uses a lot of water. The types of turf grass commonly used in our area are cool-season grasses which naturally go dormant during the hot summer months. When plants go dormant, they restrict energy to the leaves which causes them to turn brown. Any extra energy is stored in the root system, to be used during the growing season. For cool season turf grass the optimal growing season is during the wet and cool part of the year. For our region, that season runs from late September through May and often well into June. The following summaries on the pros and cons of turf grass may help you to better manage your lawn areas and see if taking on a different strategy can help you conserve water, leaving it in the river for fish. Brown Grass: Positives • Dormancy is not death. Dormancy will begin as soon as the daily temperatures approach a consistent 80°, the moisture in the soil begins to dry out and soil temperature begin to hit around 65 degrees. The grass will remain dormant until the temperature drops back down and moisture begins to reach the root system. • You will need to water your lawn well only once or twice per month, depending upon how much summer rain we get. • Reduces pesticide use. While the grass is dormant, some weeds may get started, these can typically be controlled by digging them up or spot treating them with an herbicide. • Brown lawns are much less attractive to moles, grubs and other burrowing pests. • Dormant lawns do not need to be regularly mowed. Once it goes to sleep, the lawn becomes low cost and low maintenance. Brown Grass: Negatives • Does not do well with heavy play or foot traffic. Brown grass is hard and the crown of the plant can be damaged by continual foot traffic. • It is typically hotter and does not help cool the temperatures around a home. • Takes 3 to 5 weeks of regular watering to snap out of dormancy and begin to green up. Continued on page 2 Herbs, leafy vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower can withstand mild freezes. water water management for a sustainable future conservation Lake OswegoCity of Lake Oswego 380 A Avenue, PO Box 369 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 General Information: 503-635-0270 Water Conservation Information: 503-675-3747 www.lowaterconservation.com Take the Pledge! If you live in Clackamas or Washington County and get your drinking water from the Clackamas River, we are asking our water customers to take a pledge to reduce or even stop outdoor watering by mid-September. If you care about protecting our river water for people, and fish here’s your chance to be part of our “Fish On the Run, Irrigation Done” campaign to help migrating fish. By taking part in our Pledge you will receive a FREE yard sign (below) letting neighbors know that you are doing your part to keep water in the Clackamas River for fish. Reduced flows in the late summer is not at all unusual for the Clackamas River. This is the time of year when the flows become the lowest. Water temperatures can rise above what the salmon and steelhead can survive. Those endangered anadromous fish need healthy summer flows to travel upstream to spawn. The river and its tributaries are life or death to a unique region that supports diverse species of plants, animals and insects; all connected to each other and all dependent upon the Clackamas River. They can do nothing but live with and strive to survive the changes that happen to their environment over the course of time, but we can do something. We are a part of the 300,000 plus humans that use this great river for our drinking water, our agriculture and industries and we can make some changes in how we use our water this time of year that can help increase wildlife’s chances of survival during this critical late-season time. We can work a little harder to keep more of the water in the river this September. Take the time to go out and change the programming on your controller, reduce the number of days that you water or the amount of time that you water by 25%. Contact your municipalities, tell them that you support reducing the amount of water used in parks, cemeteries, road medians, and public spaces during this critical time. Let’s leave a little extra in the river when it is needed the most! Let’s Talk WaterContinued from page 1 Green Grass: Positives • Has a cooling effect that can be beneficial. Green grass can cool the ambient temperature as much as 10° with in about a 10’ radius, making outdoor gathering areas more pleasant. • Handles high traffic and play better. It is also much softer than brown grass. Green grass is probably a better choice for areas that are regularly used for sports, play, or social gatherings. Green Grass: Negatives • Needs more water, amendments (fertilizers/herbicides), and labor to maintain. (It is cool season by type, meaning the temperatures must be mitigated both in the soil and on the leaves). • Frequent watering creates shallow roots (2”-3”) • Supermarket for moles, etc. Somewhere in the middle (managed stress): Positives • Requires less water and less maintenance (mowing). Takes about 30% to 40% less water to maintain and about half the mowing days. • Less attractive to pests. • Promotes deeper roots and drought resiliency. • Greens-up in about 1 week by adding additional water if wanted. Somewhere in the middle (managed stress): Negatives • Not uniform in appearance. Shaded areas will be greener than slopes or exposed areas. • Will provide limited cooling. The best strategy for managing your lawn would be to use a combination of all three. If you have areas that are rarely or never used, let them go brown. Water those areas only once per month to keep the crowns active. Use water to keep the areas in and around your house and entertaining areas green. (10’) If you have kids, select a portion of your yard for their use and keep it green. Use managed stress for the rest of your yard and put down additional water when you need it for an event or function. (Don’t forget to turn it back down after.) This summer think about doing something different with your lawn areas and be more water efficient. For more watering strategies, please visit: • www.conserveh2o.org/ • www.clackamasproviders.org/ • www.ci.oswego.or.us/publicworks/water-conservation-program Colors of GrassContinued from page 1 Fall To-Do List As the fall season approaches, here are some tips to help make the transition into winter less stressful. September: • Reduce your yard watering by 20-25%. The easiest way to do this is to reduce the number of days you water. If you currently water four days per week water three, etc. Every plant in the yard, with few exceptions, are beginning the journey into winter dormancy and require much less water than in the summer. • Clean out gutters and downspouts. Making sure they are ready for the winter rain is important. • Plant new plantings for your yard. Fall is the very best time to plant grass, shrubs and trees. The soil is warm enough to promote root growth, and cooler days mean less stress on the plant. • Test your soil and, if needed, fertilize your turf grass. • Aerate your lawn. The spring and fall are the ideal times to do this as the cooler temperatures make it easier for the plants to recover. Aeration will also loosen the soil to allow for better drainage when the rains come. Rake off and remove the cores. You can also apply some ¼-10 minus crushed rock or garden pumice to the lawn. Rake a thin layer over the grass and into the holes. This will help keep the soil from compacting in the future. • Clear debris from any storm water catchment facilities and keep them clear all winter to prevent water backing up and flooding streets and properties. • Good time to prune trees. October: • Water only if necessary. System should be physically off by mid- October. (Turn your system off at the valve) • Keep after the leaves and debris. • Enjoy the season. Making sure your gutters and downspouts are ready for winter rain.