04.30.13Martha Golea

Spruce Up Your Sprinklers

Too much pressure! This can be easily detected and repaired during the inspection portion of sprinkler spruce up. Too much pressure! This can be easily detected and repaired during the inspection portion of sprinkler spruce up.
Have you heard of the newest campaign in town: “Sprinkler Spruce Up”? With such a catchy name, would you guess it is:

a) promoted by Martha Stewart to get homeowners to decorate their sprinklers for the outdoor party season? OR

b) sponsored by EPA’s WaterSense program to remind Americans about the importance of checking and maintaining their sprinkler systems before they increase their water use in the spring and summer?

As fun as BeDazzled sprinklers sound, EPA WaterSense – the mastermind behind the campaign – has a much more practical approach to water awareness (sigh of relief).  I recently interviewed Amber Lefstead, the Outdoor Coordinator for the U.S. EPA WaterSense Program, about the new campaign. She was happy to help with a blog post and she will also be our guest on Landscape Chat tomorrow on Twitter at 2:00 pm EST. So if you just can’t get enough sprinkler talk, stick around!

Why is EPA WaterSense encouraging people to inspect their sprinklers?

  • Residential outdoor water use across the United States accounts for nearly 9 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation.
  • Homes with automatically timed irrigation systems use about 50 percent more water outdoors than those without.
  • Irrigation systems can develop cracks in pipes that lead to costly leaks, and broken sprinkler heads that waste water and money.
  • A broken or missing sprinkler head could waste as much as 25,000 gallons of water and more than $90 over a six-month irrigation season.

Why have you chosen spring as the ideal time to launch the campaign?

  • With the warmer weather spring and summer brings, many homeowners ramp up their outdoor water use. Inspecting irrigation systems can help homeowners identify any problems before they waste a lot of water during the height of the watering season.

What are your goals for the campaign?

  • The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of the need to properly maintain irrigation systems to help homeowners and business owners save water and money.

A lot of people tell me they have had leaks for months and never fixed them. Why should they care about leaks? What’s in it for them?

  • Why waste if there’s a way to avoid it? Finding and fixing leaks is one of the easiest ways to save water – and money – around the house. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. A broken or missing sprinkler head could waste as much as 25,000 gallons of water and more than $90 over a six-month irrigation season.

How can community managers participate and get the most out of the campaign?

  • Community managers can raise awareness of the need to maintain irrigation systems in their community by announcing Sprinkler Spruce-Up at homeowner association meetings or via the community listserve/email/social media and directing individuals with installed irrigation systems to the WaterSense website.
  • Community managers can also direct property owners to WaterSense’s list of certified irrigation professionals.

I know lots of people who don’t have an irrigation system or live in a house or apartment community where they don’t manage irrigation, but they’re passionate about outdoor water savings. How can they participate in the campaign? 

  • There are many easy steps homeowners and businesses can take to save water outdoors, whether or not they have an installed irrigation system. You can find some ideas on our website.

  • Individuals without installed irrigation can also help support the effort by passing along information to their neighbors, contractors, or property managers.

How does this program support the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment?

  • Using water efficiently will help ensure reliable water supplies today and for future generations.
  • Monitoring and making simple adjustments to the sprinkler also reduces runoff from the landscape, helping to keep local water bodies clean and healthy.


Amber Lefstead is the Outdoor Coordinator for the EPA WaterSense program. In this role, she manages the WaterSense irrigation partnership program and the development of education and outreach materials on outdoor water use. Ms. Lefstead holds a B.S. in Biology from Florida State University and a M.S. in Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland.

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Martha Golea

A seasoned communicator and passionate water conservationist, Martha Golea tracks projects in progress and reports on usage of new and exploratory irrigation technology and water management strategies. In addition to contributing to customer newsletters and creating case studies of our work, Martha also creates tools that help educate customers and the community on landscape maintenance best practices. Martha also regularly contributes content on water management and conservation to Lawn & Landscape Magazine.

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