How Much Water Could Local Irrigation Codes Save?

Officials in Alachua County recently put a number to water conservation from a new irrigation enacted in 2015, the Gainesville Sun reports.

The figure was 9 million gallons in the past year.

That was accomplished by tightening irrigation design standards for new development.

In addition to regulations on the total acreage where high-volume (as opposed to micro) irrigation is required, the code also requires certification of irrigation contractors to make sure only qualified people are installing the systems, sets standards that avoid irrigation systems that irrigate sidewalks, driveways, streets and building walls and reinforce the requirement that all irrigation systems be equipped with a functioning rain sensor.

This goes farther than the Polk County landscaping ordinance, which is primarily devoted to landscape buffers and the choices of landscape plants. However, the Polk development code specifies micro or low-volume irrigation should be installed for at least half of the landscape and all of the non-turf landscape.

It is generally acknowledged that turf irrigation creates most of the residential irrigation demand and the potential for surface water pollution from runoff of fertilizer and other chemicals.

As local elected officials pursue future water supply planning, it might be interesting to take a look at current irrigation standards for new development and for significant redevelopment projects to see if there are some potential savings to be had.

Saving 9 million gallons of water a year may not seem like much—Polk County residents and businesses use around 300 million gallons a day—but you never know what kinds of savings we can achieve until we put a pencil to it.

It would be an interesting exercise in water planning.


Residential automatic irrigation systems shouldn’t be operating often in the summer in peninsular Florida where rainstorms drift inland from the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico regularly.


Posted in Group Conservation Issues.