Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lawn sprinklers... water saving tools?

After getting showered by a lawn sprinkler while innocently walking on a sidewalk today, an interesting thought came to my mind: Do sprinklers really help to keep more sustainable irrigation practices? My reflection, of course, would not be oriented towards the industrial use of sprinklers (e.g. for agriculture), but merely to residential utilization.

The idea of using sprinklers is essentially good. These systems probably reduced significantly the amount of water used to irrigate residential gardens, since they distribute water more efficiently to larger portions of land than regular hoses do. And, although there are more efficient sprinkler systems available in the market, which reduce significantly the amount of water used to irrigate land (such as the underground dripping systems), the conventional sprinklers commonly used for residential purposes offer an inexpensive method to rationalize water used for irrigation.

Up until this point, it would seem that the use of sprinklers is all positive. But what happens when people who use these sprinklers do not see social responsibility as one of their major virtues? Well, the result of such lack of social responsibility is normally reflected in one or both of the following unfortunate (yet common) urban scenarios:

  • The sprinkler is positioned incorrectly. This normally results in having well-irrigated sidewalks instead of well-irrigated lawns.
  • The sprinkler is left working for too long. I have seen cases in which plants would be yelling for help if they could speak, as they are about to drown in pools created by sprinklers left to operate for hours without supervision.
From all this reflection, I would conclude that sprinklers are great tools to manage better the irrigation of gardens, as long as it is done responsibly. Otherwise, the waste of water becomes enormous, maybe even comparable to the waste produced by hoses. So, for people who normally handle sprinklers, please remember to use them in a responsible way... else, please consider purchasing underground dripping systems instead!


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