The Port Washington Water District’s second water conservation campaign begins
The Port Washington Water District (PWWD) is kicking off its second Do It For Port! water conservation campaign for this spring and summer. The Do It For Port! campaign began last year to encourage and educate Port residents to be more conscientious about water usage. The informational events are brought to the community by the PWWD and spearheaded by Commissioner Mindy Germain.
“This campaign is really about engaging the voices of our own residents. It’s about showing residents, not just telling them. It’s about being out in the community. It’s about giving people tools,” said Commissioner Germain. “And I think we’re starting to see community acceptance that our drinking water is threatened by overuse and we need to take steps to curb waste.”
The PWWD serves about 30,000 residents and with the increasing need for water conservation during the warm season, the Do It For Port! campaign ensures residents have all the tools and resources needed to maximize water savings when the community’s water consumption spikes three-fold.
“It’s very hard to break through and change behavior,” said Commissioner Germain. “And there’s a real dire need for conservation. It’s no longer a nice thing to do, it’s really imperative on Long Island, especially in Port Washington. We’re a coastal community and we’re dealing with saltwater intrusion, emerging contaminants and climate change. All of this led us to a point where we felt that we really needed to focus on outdoor water use because 50% of outdoor water use is wasted from inefficient watering methods.”
Last summer was one of the hottest and driest summers Long Island had experienced in the past ten years. “All water suppliers on Long Island had our hearts in our throats. But luckily, in Port, we didn’t wait for the drought. We already had a whole program in place,” said Commissioner Germain.
Based on the PWWD’s data, Commissioner Germain shared that 2010, 2014, 2015, 2020 and 2022 were the hottest and driest summer seasons. While 2022 was the hottest and driest of them all, the PWWD pumped the least, shared Commissioner Germain. The different educational and informational components of the campaign aided Port in its incredible water conservation efforts.
“It was about public outreach, our sustainable garden tour and smart irrigation. It was about going out and giving out warnings to coach people, not to punish people,” said Commissioner Germain. “Maybe you didn’t get it right and you’re watering at the wrong time. But it’s okay, we know you’re busy, so here’s what you need to do to fix it.”
The PWWD gave out 227 warnings to residents about the right times to water their plants and lawns and they only gave out 12 repeat warnings.
“We’ve developed a pretty sophisticated watering schedule. So we give everyone a two-hour watering window and we spread it out throughout the peninsula because that is a really good conservation strategy,” said Commissioner Germain. “People wanna do the right thing and sometimes it takes just a little education.”
In addition to the watering schedule, the PWWD encourages residents to make the switch to smart irrigation technology. Replacing a standard irrigation timer with a smart irrigation controller, residents can still water their lawns and gardens automatically but waste a lot less water.
Commissioner Germain shared that smart irrigation technology uses real-time weather information and soil moisture information to do immediate calculations and only waters what you need.
“There was a Cornell study done that shows that this type of irrigation cuts back water use up to 40 percent,” said Commissioner Germain. “So we made a decision back in 2020 that by 2025 all systems in Port Washington need to have smart irrigation.”
The PWWD offers a rebate program to cover the cost of making the switch. On the PWWD website (pwwd.org), there is information about smart irrigation and the rebate program sign-up for residents to take advantage of this season.
The Do It For Port! campaign’s success in 2022 will continue this year, with a campaign kickoff on Tuesday, May 9 at 4 p.m. with a student tour of the PWWD facilities. Students and their parents will get a firsthand look at everything that goes into pumping, treating and distributing millions of gallons of water every single day.
“We’re very excited to bring Do It For Port! back to our community this year, and there is no better way to start off than by getting our students involved,” said Commissioner Germain in a PWWD press release. “Our youth hold the keys to our water’s safety for future generations, making it crucial that we instill a passion and awareness for our natural environment within them early on. We look forward to showing them everything we do at the Port Washington Water District to keep our community’s water safe on a daily basis.”
This year’s American Water Works Association (AWWA) National Drinking Water Week runs from May 7 to 13, making this tour the perfect time for students to get interested in the functionality or water providers. Students and parents can register for the tour at www.pwwd.org/conservation/do-it-for-port-educational-events.
The Do It For Port! Campaign will run throughout the summer. In partnership with the Science Museum of Long Island, the PWWD will have a table at three Live at Five events on May 11, June 8 and July 13. The PWWD will be doing activities with kids, like helping them build their own aquifers, and talking to parents about conservation rules and tips. The PWWD will also have a booth at HarborFest on June 4 to share educational information.
The PWWD is bringing back its successful sustainable garden tour with Re-Wild Long Island on June 17 at 9:30 a.m.
“It’s a really wonderful partnership for us because using native plants cuts back so much on the amount of water required,” said Commissioner Germain. “And so there’s a lot of people that think that its ugly or they’re used to a traditional lawn. So the only way to really overcome that is to show people how beautiful right it is. It’s so nice that people can kind of see some examples in their own community. Not just of the plants but also of how they’re irrigating, drip irrigation, smart irrigation.”
To stay informed on upcoming Do It For Port! Events, visit the Port Washington Water District website at pwwd.org