Western Nevada is one
of the driest places in the United States, with an average annual rainfall of
about seven inches. Dont let The Big Dump snowstorms of 2005 fool
you. We need all the water we can get to keep our greenery from turning a lovely
shade of Shredded Wheat brown.
Luckily, there are a lot
of smart people out there who are finding new ways to help us use less water
and to water smarter. One of those water wizards is Bill Carlos, horticulturist
with University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension. In collaboration with
Dr. Wally Miller and Dr. George Fernandez, also of UNR, Carlos is participating
in the Washoe Evapotranspiration Project.
The project is sponsored
by local water entities, UNR, and the Desert Research Institute. Truckee Meadows
Water Authority plays a key role in gathering project data.
So, besides being a mouthful of syllables,
what is evapotranspiration, or ET, for short?
Its simply the two ways in which water is
lost from the earth, Carlos says. Evaporation were all familiar
with. Transpiration is how plants, grass included, lose water through small
openings on the underside of each leaf, called stomata.
In other words, transpiration is how a plant sweats.
So what does
all this have to do with the price of fescue and water to keep it
green? In the WET project, ET data is collected at weather stations
and this data is fed to satellites that relay information to devices
called smart irrigation controllers, which adjust watering
amounts and scheduling based on the precise weather and climate
data it receives.
We have found that most peoplewater anywhere from
twice to 10 times the amount they need to, Carlos says. We estimate
you can save 12 to 25 percent on your water use with this system. The cost of
water is going up all the time, and systems like these make good economic and
Thanks to people like Bill Carlos and his colleagues,
WET is looking up to the clouds and beyond, bringing knowledge all the way down
to the grass-roots level. Literally.
For more information, visit washoeet.dri.com
or call 784-4848.