Monitor winter watering to prevent waste and hazardous conditions - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

11/17/09

Monitor winter watering to prevent waste and hazardous conditions

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By Ben Lawson  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - As winter approaches, sprinkler overflow becomes more than waste - it can create a hazard. To keep you safe, city code administrators say they'll be on the lookout for violators. NewsChannel 11's Ben Lawson has details.

Freezing temperatures hit the South Plains Tuesday morning. The automatic sprinklers came on outside one Lubbock business, freezing the grassy area. Fortunately, it did not freeze sidewalks or roadways, but that's the problem – it could create a potential danger for drivers and pedestrians."    

Ice may create a pretty picture, but it’s also a potential danger. Typically, if you see a single ice-laden lawn in the neighborhood, it's caused by a sprinkler system. But, if it's cold enough to freeze, the owner is actually violating city code. “You can't operate your sprinkler system when it's below 35 degrees," says Stuart Walker with the City of Lubbock.

Code Administrator Stuart Walker and his team enforce the ordinance, because overflow can create sidewalks sheathed in ice, “It creates a slip and fall hazard,” he says.

Doctor Joe Sasin at UMC says they see more slip and fall injuries this time of year. "What we commonly see are hip injuries, wrist injuries, arm and lower extremity injuries," Sasin said.

Another concern is roadways ripe with slick spots. Investigators determined overflow from a nearby sprinkler system created an ice patch along West Loop 289 last December, causing a rollover. Fortunately, the driver only had moderate injuries.

Walker says ice hazards can be created by other issues, such as broken water lines, so they investigate, and their focus is more on educating first time violators. “We want people to understand the city ordinance. We want people to understand their sprinkler system first and foremost, but for non-compliance. If we've been out there and had to talk to folks a couple of times and they're still being resistant, we have the ability to write citations," says Walker.

A violation write-up could cost you more than $100. Rules are the same for everyone, residential and business, so to prevent cost and injury, code enforcement recommends daytime watering during the winter months. Not only is it typically warmer, you can also check for overflow issues. “We are out of the conservation period right now, so there's not any restrictions as far as what part of the day you can water in," says Walker.

Walker also reminds folks that yards and landscaping don't need as much water during the winter months. The city recommends no more than an inch per month for Bermuda and dormant grasses, and no more than an inch every two weeks for winter grasses.

You can also alert the city to violations by calling the Wasted Water Hotline at 775-3952.

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