Across America, millions of people spend considerable time and money caring for their lawns. They do this because well-kept lawns add value to property, help reduce noise, dust and carbon dioxide and help control erosion. What most people don't know is that the chemicals they use on their lawns in the form of pesticides and herbicides can affect their drinking water.
Some Atlantans have invested in irrigation systems that have separate meters to record usage. Irrigation meters, which are used for activities like lawn watering and pool filling, do not incur sewer charges since the water used is not returned to the sewer system. If you do not have an irrigation meter, the water you are using is measured by your domestic meter and flows through your domestic water line. This can be a problem for two reasons.
First, attaching a sprinkler system to your domestic water line, as well as filling a hot tub or pool and/or maintaining an ornamental pond can create a cross-connection that will allow lawn chemicals, animal waste and other contaminants to enter the water line that serves your home through a process known as backflow or back siphonage. This can pose a threat to your health and that of your family. Using an irrigation meter eliminates the threat because the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management requires all irrigation meters to have a system called a Reduced Pressure Principal Assembly that prevents backflow.
And, second, using your domestic meter and water line to water your lawn will make your bill increase significantly. The City of Atlanta bills in CCF (hundred cubic feet or, roughly 750 gallons) and uses tiered water rates, under which, the more water you use, the higher the cost per unit of water is. Watering your lawn even once a week can send your usage into the top tier, meaning that you are paying the highest per-CCF cost. And, because you are paying both water and sewer charges when you use your domestic meter to water your lawn and because sewer charges are much higher than water charges due to the federally mandated overhaul of the City's wastewater system, your bill can jump to several times the normal amount.
Irrigation meters are not inexpensive. But if you water your lawn even twice a week, they can pay for themselves quickly. And they eliminate the backflow threat. For more information on cross-connections and backflow or purchasing an irrigation meter, call 404-982-1486.