Drip irrigation can save your water,
your time and your money. Here's how...
According to studies, households in the US and Canada use an average
of 400 gallons of water per day. That is 146,000 gallons per year,
the highest rate of consumption among all the countries of the world.
Of course, that study includes many residents who have no gardens,
as well as all the gardening enthusiasts who use more water than the
As an example, at my house we use about 300 gallons per day inside
the house. Outside, we use 322 gallons per day to water the flower
beds, greenhouse and vegetable garden during the growing season.
Is that a lot? Yes but that's all drip irrigation. Back when we used
overhead sprinklers and hand watering, we used twice as much water in the
gardens and greenhouse, or about 700 gallons per day and that was
In the old days, each of our overhead sprinklers consumed 350 gallons per hour
and a lot of water was lost to evaporation, runoff and overspray.
We relied on rain a lot more then and our plants suffered several
water shortages each summer. With our drip irrigation, each plant
now receives the exact amount of water it needs, every day of the
summer. No more wilt or stress from underwatering.
By the way,
we never water our lawn so that doesn't figure into our calculations
Commercial growers have long known about how efficient drip irrigation
Most of our drip system is made up of dripline that
delivers 1 gallon per hour per dripper
[The following calculations are based on the US Dollar (USD) equal
to $1.34 Canadian Dollars(CDN) ]
There are many gardeners who use a lot more water each day than
we do, but let's use my house as an example. We save about 350 gallons
per day by using drip irrigation rather than using sprinklers and
hand watering. If we pay $.50 CDN ($.37 USD) per cubic metre of water
each month, or $2.27 CDN ($1.69 USD) per 1000 gallons, we can save
$23.84 CDN ($17.75 USD) per month on our water bill during the watering
season. Recalculate your own savings using your local water rate
and your own use of water. The figures used here are based on the
average water rates across North America.
If the growing and watering season lasts from the first of May to
the end of September, that's five months of savings at $23.84 CDN
($17.75 USD) per month or about $119.20 ($88.74 USD) per year. Our
drip irrigation system costs about $400 ($297.77 USD) and should
last at least 10 years with only minor maintenance costs.
that our drip irrigation pays for itself in under four years and
returns a profit of $119.20 ($88.74 USD) per year for six years,
the balance of its service life of ten years, for a total "profit" of
$715.20 ($532.42 USD) over 10 years. Not bad.
I am not including the cost of the four timers we use to control
our four drip irrigation circuits since they are an option and not
truly necessary to the operation even if they do help me greatly
by automating the drip irrigation.
We've been using our current drip irrigation system
for four years and I see no reason to believe that it won't last
for another six years. In fact, many of the components should last
than that if they are protected from direct sunlight and kept clean
by the use of good 150-mesh filters.
If everyone used drip irrigation to water their gardens,
trees, shrubs and greenhouses, there would be a significant reduction
in the demand for fresh water in our cities and towns. That would
result in savings on the costs of building new water treatment plants
and storm sewers that are paid from general revenue rather than from
water rates. Your taxes could either go down or they could be spent
for more important services such as health care.
Save fresh water
So many areas of North America face serious water shortages
or drought that consumers should help conserve fresh water through
changes to lifestyle and activities which include the use of drip
irrigation. The supply of fresh water is limited but the demand grows
each year. The cost of providing fresh water will continue to rise
owing to the high price of filtering, cleaning and reusing municipal
water. Some waters in the US are cleaned and recycled 15 times to
serve various towns on the same river.
Drip irrigation is one way
we all can help conserve our water. Best of all, drip irrigation
returns enough to cover the cost of components and to return a
profit on your investment.
The smallest drip circuit we have is in the greenhouse.