Merrill Bingham, the City’s previous Public Works Director, was known for sharing bits of wisdom. One day while it was raining, he humored us by saying, “Why pay for what God is giving away free?”
We try to live by that advice here in the City by not not watering or being wasteful with water when God is giving it away.
I share that with you so it’s clear that we understand how important water is and we try to be as diligent as possible to not be careless with it.
One of my least exciting calls to get is one telling me that a city-owned property has its sprinklers on in the middle of a frog-strangling typhoon. My immediate reaction is to call someone and get it taken care of right then.
I thought I’d share with you a few things I learned about the complexity of monitoring each and every Provo facility by passing along some facts that I think will surprise you.
Did you know that Provo’s irrigation system is responsible for 75 different sites? That breaks down to 1200 irrigation valves and 10,000 individual irrigation heads. It’s easy to guess that at least one of those valves is going to malfunction at some point.
Again, we don’t want to waste and understand that we operate under a microscope. There are a handful of reasons you might see our sprinklers on during non-prime times or when it’s actually raining outside. For example, the system is being tested or repaired by one of our technicians. With so many valves and heads, our crews spend hours upon hours replacing them in the summer. Another reason you may see us presumably wasting is trying to get sod or other plant material to “take”. If there’s damaged grass that’s being replaced, it’s important it gets water quickly.
The city has shifted some of its thinking too when it comes to how we manage our grounds. We understand that we live in a desert and need to conserve, so the things we’re planting and using are water-friendly. As we complete parks, we think about how the new sites are going to help us conserve water when they’re designed. We use low-water plants, rock and wood chips to prevent soil water loss and schedule our water applications during times with lower evaporation rates (8:00 pm – 10:00 am).
It’s important to state that we do our very best in the city to make sure that we take care of a resource as important as water. Provo’s leaders for generations have done an amazing job at assuring we’re tee’d up for success into the future – even on years like this when we didn’t get much snow.
All this said, we know we aren’t perfect. If you see something and feel you’d like to report it, call our Parks Division at 801.852.6606.