This has been a hot and dry summer in the United States; in fact, according to the Associated Press, more than half of all U.S. counties have been identified as natural disaster areas during the past three months due to drought. As we read headlines about crop shortages and dry riverbeds elsewhere, it can be easy to take water for granted here in “rainy” Oregon.

But late summer is a critical time for water use in our region, too. Even though the rainy months are coming soon to Oregon, our gardens still need regular water after months of dry weather. (In fact, for example, the OSU Extension Service advises that mid-August through September is the optimal time to establish new lawns.) Around the state, fire season continues, with water needed to fight wildfires in Hells Canyon and Warm Springs. And reservoir levels in the Portland region are dropping as we use more water than nature provides.

That’s why now is the perfect opportunity to take some quick and easy steps to conserve this precious resource and help ensure our region has the water we need both now and into the future. The Regional Water Providers Consortium — a group of 20-plus local water providers and Metro regional government — offers these “Five Top Tips” to help conserve water in our region’s yards and gardens in late summer:

1. Adjust your sprinklers so that they’re watering your lawn and garden, and not the street or sidewalk.

2. Water early in the morning (before 10 a.m) or later in the evening (after 6 p.m.) when temperatures are cooler and evaporation is minimized.

3. Water established lawns about 1 inch per week (a bit more during hot, dry weather). Find out how much to water this week with the Weekly Watering Number on the Regional Water Providers Consortium website (

4. Inspect your overall irrigation system for leaks, broken lines or blockage in the lines. A well-maintained system will save you money, water and time.

5. Adjust your mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture, so your lawn requires less water.

Visit the Regional Water Providers Consortium website for more tools and resources to help conserve water year-round. 

The Regional Water Providers Consortium is a group of local water providers and the Metro regional government.

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