Solving problems in our communities
Engaging university-trained volunteers to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education. Read about WSU Master Gardeners in the news.
Individuals acquire knowledge about the significance of water conservation and come to recognize water as a finite resource. They also understand that landscapes consume a significant amount of water and learn about overarching principles for water conservation that can be universally applied.
Water is a limited resource. Clean water, especially water that is usable by humans for consumption, is a non-renewable resource. Given weather patterns that are more erratic and drier than decades past, it is important to think about potential droughts that cause water shortages. It is estimated that home landscapes can unnecessarily triple the average homeowner’s water consumption during the growing season. According to the EPA residential outdoor water use across the US accounts for nearly 8 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation. Using water conserving design principles coupled with efficient irrigation delivery systems all play a role in water conservation.
WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers teach water-wise gardening practices to reduce the amount of water needed for healthy landscapes to ensure there is plenty of water in our lakes, streams, rivers and aquifers.
- 299 adults and 148 youth learned that water is a finite resource that needs conserving for the benefits of people, agriculture and the environment
- Extension Master Gardener volunteers answered 913 water conservation questions from gardeners who attended plant clinics
- 146 classes on water conservation and strategies for saving water in the home landscape were taught
- 6 demonstrations were held to show attendees strategies for saving water in the home landscape
- 3 hands-on workshops were held where attendees practiced water conserving gardening and irrigation principles
- 16 field days allowed participants to see water conserving principles at work
Impacts of teaching about water conservation
In San Juan County, Extension Master Gardener volunteers taught classes on installing water conserving drip irrigation. Attendees learned about the importance of water conservation and gained an understanding that water is a finite resource. They also learned that landscapes use an inordinate amount of water and that there are general water conserving principles that can be applied. More specifically, attendees learned how to install a drip irrigation system to maximize water conserving principles. 70% percent of attendees indicated they were either extremely likely or very likely to adopt water conserving landscaping practices after attending the workshop by employing technologies that ensure only the minimal amount of water that is needed is applied by installing an efficient drip system.
In Spokane County, Extension Master Gardeners partner with the city of Spokane Water Stewardship program ‘SpokaneScape’ to teach residents about water reducing principles through an outdoor demonstration and research garden. Formerly an unirrigated patch of weeds, a strip of land owned by the city and occupied by WSU Spokane County Extension is now a waterwise garden where extension master gardener volunteers can teach, demonstrate and practice the seven principles of water conservation in home landscapes including planning and design, soil preparation and improvement, efficient irrigation, plant selection, practical turf areas, mulching and sustainable maintenance practices. 39% of attendees in classes indicated an increase in knowledge on drip irrigation and of designing irrigation by water needed; a 42% knowledge increase in proper mulching; 49% knowledge increase in selecting native and drought tolerant plants and a 51% knowledge increase in grouping plants according to water needs.
Doing our part
Water conservation efforts are particularly important in the Spokane area because the aquifer is the only source of water for nearly half a million people. In fact, it is a sole source aquifer, which means it supplies at least 50% of the drinking water for its service area and there are no other available alternatives to provide drinking water should the source become contaminated.
Average household water use triples in the summer causing a net drawdown of the aquifer.
WSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers teach practical ways to conserve water.
- 68% of participants in water conservation classes will install drip irrigation.
- 68% of participants will create irrigation zones for watering use.
- 58% of participants will start using mulch.
- 58% participants will select native or drought tolerant plants.