Pros and Cons of Using the PI System

For the past two months we have been talking about why customers should use our pressure irrigation system if possible for their outside watering needs. We have been focusing on the need to preserve the mountain water for drinking. This month, we’ll talk about the pros and cons that each customer weighs in making an individual decision.

Pros

  • It costs less. The exact amount you’ll save by using PI water rather than culinary water to green up your lawn depends on many things, but in general, you could save at least 50% on your landscaping water (and possibly much more) by using pressure irrigation if it’s offered in your area.
  • No backflow prevention device is required if you use only PI water for irrigation. You won’t have to pay to buy and install a device, have it certified, or have it inspected yearly, which usually costs $50-$75.
  • PI helps us use large water rights that won’t otherwise get used. This isn’t so much an individual benefit, but as a shareholder, you have an interest in helping your water company make the most of its assets.

Cons

Alkaline water. This is actually a “pro” for some plants, such as blueberries, which thrive on alkalinity; for other plants, spraying the alkaline PI water on leaves can burn the leaves. The solution is to use watering methods that feed the trunk and roots, rather than spraying the leaves. The bonus is that these methods tend to use less water for the same result. If you’d like more information on plants that can tolerate – or even thrive on – alkaline water, contact the Salt Lake County extension service (http://extension.usu.edu/saltlake/ or 385-468-4575).

Filtering is needed. Because the PI water is not filtered and treated like our culinary water, there is some sediment in the water and you will need to clean the filter in the system occasionally. How often you need to clean it depends on where you live; some people clean them once a year, while others clean them once or twice a week during irrigation season.

The season is limited. Based on our water rights, we can offer PI water only from April 15 through October 15 at the latest; it’s possible for the season to end earlier under drought conditions. By late September, however, most plants are going dormant and need very little water anyway. And you can always connect a hose to your culinary system and use a good old-fashioned sprinkler if you simply must water.

Biggest “Pro:” Backflow Prevention

We mentioned earlier that if you use only the PI system for watering outside, you can save some money and hassle by not having to install a backflow prevention device. However, the benefits go beyond financial: by using PI for outdoor watering, you greatly reduce the chances of having an accidental backflow incident that could contaminate the culinary water in your neighborhood. So for your health and the health of your neighbors – if you can use the PI system, make the most of it and use it for all your outdoor watering.