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Drip, Drip, Drip 

Where does Bend's water go? Keeping your yard "green"

  • Chris Miller

For our Sustainability Issue, the Source reached out to Michael Buettner, the City of Bend Water District's water conservation program manager, to see where most of our water goes.

Buettner said 60 percent of all residential water use is landscape irrigation, or in laymen's terms, watering the grass.

"We have really sandy/pumice soils here that don't hold a lot of water or nutrients, so people often end up irrigating excessively to keep lawns looking green," Buettner said.

Buettner offered some free advice for those who want lush looking grass areas.

"In general, most homeowners with a lawn should always be thinking about how to build up the soil's moisture hold capacity," he said.

His advice:

Leave the grass clippings.

Do a regular aeration.

Consider an annual topdressing with an organic compost.

Or better yet, just convert to a water-wise landscape and ditch the lawn mower altogether.

Other facts about Bend's water use:

About 60 percent of the City's water is residential, the other 40 percent in non-residential.

The largest single user tends to be large outdoor spaces, like sports fields for junior and senior high schools.

Bend Parks and Recreation District only has City water delivered to a handful of parks. The District has a variety of other water rights and sources.

Beer drinkers rejoice, as breweries use less than 2 percent of the water the City produces.

Check out and for other information on conserving water, such as:

Scrape your food waste, don't rinse. Have faith in your dishwasher, pre-rinsing dishes wastes water.

Pay attention to your irrigation system and seasonally adjust it. It should only run at peak volume during June and July. April and September, run the sprinklers at 50 percent. In May at 60 percent, August 80 percent and October at 30 percent. Also, pay attention to when you run irrigation: the best hours are 7pm to 6am. From 9-5pm, you shouldn't run irrigation except for new sod, seed or plantings.

Make sure you're not watering the street or your neighbor's driveway. The City's code prohibits these actions.

Check water pressure to be between 30 to 60 psi. Higher pressure causes sprinkler heads' radius to decrease and flows to increase, wasting water.

And, the City's utility department has a sprinkler inspection program which started in 2014. If you are on the City of Bend's water system and you have an operating underground irrigation system, you can request an inspection by calling 541-317-3000 or

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